Facilitator, Señor Rafael Dunker Campaign, San Pedro de Macorís, Dominican Republic: Presented the topic, Natural Hair Care and The Diaspora, April 2010

Abstract: An introduction to natural hair care for diasporic “naturalistas.”  Learn the basics about hair texture, styling, and maintenance. Includes historical overview of hair in the diaspora, product recommendations and hair styling demonstration.

Naturalista—One who wears her hair in a chemical free, curly, and/or aesthetically characterized “black” hairstyle.

Within the United States and transnationally, an increasing number of Black women are wearing their hair free of chemical straighteners. Commonly referred to as “going natural” or “being natural,” the growing preference among Black women to wear their natural curly hair may help increase wellness for a population renowned for health disparities. As the body’s second fastest growing tissue, hair, next to bone barrow, is a principal indicator for health and metabolic derangements. Whereas damaged hair and hair loss are symptoms of an unhealthy body, poor grooming habits can fabricate, disguise, and/or exacerbate systemic ailments. Points to consider:

  • Many women forgo natural hair for fear of social shaming or lack of knowledge
  • Diseases such as hypertension, heart disease, diabetes, strokes, breathing complications, arthritis, sleep apnea, gallbladder disease are a few that correlate with lack of physical activity and are highest among Black women.
  • Among women with naturally curly hair, thermal/chemical straightened hairstyles can be more cost prohibitive and less functional for physical activity and exercise in comparison to natural hairstyles.

In the interest of transforming perspectives about health and beauty, this presentation introduced individuals to the naturalista world of natural hair care. Participants were introduced to a brief history of hair care and styling in the diaspora and learned the basics about internal and external natural hair care (i.e., nutrition, hair descriptions, styling, and product recommendations).  Participants observed a brief hair styling demonstration on a live model (braiding/twisting/coiling). Concluded with a hands-on Q & A.


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