The Daily Tar Heel

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Saturday March 25th

Natura Magazine expands at UNC

There is a dearth of publications targeted toward minority women — but UNC sophomore Malia Brown is hoping to change that with her online publication, Natura Magazine.

Launched in the latter part of 2011, Natura Magazine was created to celebrate and provide hair care tips for African-American women’s natural hair, or hair that has not been chemically straightened.

The magazine has since expanded to cover myriad subjects, including beauty, health, fitness, entertainment, fashion, body and soul.

“I wanted to create a publication that inspired women and allowed them to be confident in their skin,” Brown said.

Given the homogeneous images of beauty in the media, sophomore Resita Cox, associate editor of Natura, said this message particularly resonated with her.

“In our society, it seems that ‘beautiful’ can only mean one thing, and that’s the models you see on TV,” Cox said. “Our goal is to make ‘beautiful’ more diverse.”

In its stride to redefine the ideals of beauty, Natura is also establishing a nexus between minority women on campus. Writing for the magazine and reaching out to people, junior Brianna Rhodes said, makes you realize that your struggles are not insular — they are shared.

While building the magazine, the women of the staff have also had a chance to reflect on their own feelings about their natural hair.

Brown said that she was not always confident to wear her hair in a natural style.

“I have always been natural, but it wasn’t until recently that I actually started wearing, being comfortable with my own hair and my own texture. For years, I used to always wear weaves because I wasn’t comfortable with my hair texture,” she said.

“But now I do it for a style, but not as a crutch.”

Wearing hair in a natural style also enables African-American women to experiment with styles more freely, Rhodes said.

“It was something about relaxed hair, and you can’t do that much with it,” she said.

“It doesn’t hold different styles well. I said I would rather go back to my natural journey of doing braids and tracks — I did box braids, Senegalese twists, tracks.”

While the versatility of natural hair is a subject Natura Magazine emphasizes, the magazine is open to all minority women — not just those who wear their hair in untreated styles.

“The magazine was founded on the tenet of going natural, staying natural, being natural,” Cox said. “But since its beginning, we’ve added an entertainment section, a health and fitness section, we’ve added mind, body and soul. It’s so much more than just hair. So, we don’t want people to feel like I’m not natural so I can’t pick up this publication. No. You can learn so much more from it.”

Natura is still in the developmental process and just selected its trial team for the UNC campus.

“What the team is going to help us do is market and get the word out about the magazine. We’re trying to get teams started around North Carolina but ultimately, around the United States,” Cox said.

In addition to campus charters, Natura is also working on disseminating its content across media platforms, including Twitter, Instagram and Pinterest.

“We’re working on Natura TV, which will be broadcasted on YouTube, so we’ll be bringing our magazine into a visual format,” Brown said.

Despite still being in the early stages, Natura has already featured interviews with some prominent “naturalistas,” including natural hair guru Curly Nikki and singer Elle Varner.

But Brown says the best is yet to come.

“You can look forward to exciting stories, more information to help you with your natural hair, different angles as far as who are we reaching, and just for us to grow and have a larger presence in different markets,” Brown said.

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