Carolina Curls, a six-year-old organization, aims to empower people with naturally curly hair and create an inclusive environment on campus by redefining beauty standards.
Carolina Curls treasurer and junior Kennedy Parkins joined her first year at UNC after attending some of the group's events.
“We try to uphold this purpose to create a space on campus where woman and men of color can openly talk about their hair — natural hair care,” Parkins said. “One of our purposes is to break the mold of what the ideal beauty standards are.”
Carolina Curls provides samples from different natural hair companies and supports the attendees of their events with natural hair advice. The members of the organization, Parkins said, understand how expensive natural hair care can be as well as the struggles of maintaining hair.
“Carolina Curls for me has always just been a really open place to talk about stuff like that,” Parkins said. “And I really like doing my hair, and I like watching YouTube videos, and I like everything hair so, it’s been a community of people I can share that with.”
The organization was founded by Jessica Boone in 2011 who sought to create a community for black women to talk about their hair as she had recently “big-chopped”.
A “big chop” refers to the act of cutting off all of ones processed hair to reveal their natural curls.
“I didn’t really feel like I had a sense of community at UNC, especially when I started transitioning,” Boone said.
The organization started as a Facebook group in 2011 called Natural Girls Discuss Natural Curls. The group name changed in 2016 to Carolina Curls.
Current Carolina Curls president and junior Jada Staten said the group is working with male organizations, such as fraternities, to create an open discussion about caring for yourself and for your hair.
“Previously the name of the organization was Natural Girls Discuss Natural Curls, but we are working towards being more inclusive of all genders,” Staten said.
Parkins also said the name helps to discourage the idea that natural hair can only be worn one way.
“We try not to limit it to people who only wear their hair naturally,” Parkins said. “Because, you know, a big aspect of having natural hair is sometimes you need to do protective styles to take care of your hair.”
The group began as a place for Boone and her friends to discuss natural hair and provide advice for each other, but it soon grew into something larger. However, when the group was established on campus, they only had seven members.
“The group didn’t really gain that much momentum when I first created it because a lot of people didn’t know me. And it was just something where I had to get us out there. It grew from seven to 20, from 20 to 40. So over time, we were able to expand,” Boone said.
This expansion, Boone said, was due to a general shift of female black empowerment on campus during this time. Boone said that during this time, women of color were beginning to return to natural hair, however, they still had some critics.
“You have to deal with all the, 'well you bald-headed, it ain't cute' or the feeling like you weren’t beautiful because you don’t have the long bundles and the European features.” Boone said, “We were just trying to create a community to help women love who they are naturally.”
Boone thought that once she graduated, the group would end, but she said she appreciated that the group has continued to grow.
“I am extremely proud of the people who are now in charge of Carolina Curls and I commend the women of color who seek empowerment within the organization,” Boone said.
Parkins and Staten said they encourage people to reach out to Carolina Curls on their Twitter and Instagram. Staten said she wants the broader UNC community to know about the organization.
Parkins said she wants Carolina Curls to be a safe space for students and cater to their needs.
"I hope it maintains a place where people can try products they may have not tried before through the samples we offer,” Parkins said. “I hope it maintains the sense of community because that's what I feel in the organization.”
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