Embrace the Curls with Fiercely Curly Club
BY ESTHER HERNANDEZ-Staff Writer
Beauty standards have pressured thousands of young boys and girls to change their hair in order to blend in with societal constructs, and Fiercely Curly Club is here to change the status quo of hair standards. But some of you may be wondering how can a school club advocate for change?
The purpose of this club is to redefine beauty standards and empower students through a series of self-discovery activities and curly hair-care awareness. Fiercely Curly encourages curly, coily, and tight-textured haired students to embrace their natural hair while challenging outdated societal norms. For instance, there are various cases in which young curly-haired students were made to straighten — sometimes even cut off — their hair because supposedly it violates school dress code. Mya and Deanna Cook are both black teenage girls who went to Mystic Valley Regional Charter School; they told their adoptive parents that they both wanted braids with hair extensions, and their parents said yes — wanting Mya and Deanna to feel closer to their black heritage. The next day, the two girls went to school with hair extension braids, and the school administrators told the girls their hair extensions violated dress code, as they were deemed “distracting”. When the faculty asked them to remove their braids, they girls said no. And because they refused, they were removed from their extracurricular activities, barred from prom, and threatened with suspension if they did not change their hair. On the other hand, white female students could wear hair extensions and dye their hair. When the parents of Mya and Deanna brought this to the school’s attention, they said that those students were not in violation of the dress code, stating those hair alterations weren’t as obvious.
Such outdated norms have made people with textured hair believe they do not belong in society and need to conform to Eurocentric beauty standards — specifically straight hair standards.
Fiercely Curly’s motto states, “Throughout the course of the year, club members will hopefully gain confidence, new ideas, lifelong friendships and best of all, leadership and business management skills. As the club continues to build partnerships with local elementary schools, curl enthusiasts will inspire curly haired students across the Lebanon School District. Members serve as mentors and encourage mentees by teaching them proper hair-care techniques through the study of science, literature, and history, while providing culturally responsive books.”
In the beginning of the school year, Fiercely Curly focused on teaching club members proper hair-care techniques, like restoring damaged hair and proper hair hydration. Since the pandemic has shifted the structure of club meetings and events, the focus of this year has centered around teaching and building better business management skills. The Fiercely Curly Club president, Anataysha Leon-Ortiz, explains, “My personal goal for the club is to amplify the natural hair journey and to help bring awareness in and outside of school. I also want people in the transitioning phase — a short transitional phase of the hair growth cycle between anagen and telogen that usually lasts between 10 to 20 days and during which the lower portion of the hair follicle regresses and hair growth ends In catagen, the hair follicle stops producing the fiber and regresses, shrinking dramatically — to know they aren’t alone and hopefully we can serve as a resource.”
The natural hair journey begins with you — regardless of your hair type; Fiercely Curly is a welcoming place for all hair textures. However, not all schools and businesses are as accommodating and accepting, as many schools and workplaces are guilty of discriminating against natural hair by disguising it as dress code. Still, the U.S. Senate has passed the CROWN Act to prohibit hair-discrimination across the country, making it illegal to send a student home or fire someone from work based on how they wear their hair. It is the first legislation passed at the state level in the United States to prohibit such discrimination. The CROWN Act, which was drafted and sponsored by State Senator Holly Mitchell, was passed unanimously in both chambers of the California Legislature by June 27, 2019, and was signed into law on July 3, 2019.
For more information about how you can get involved with local and state hair-policy changes, visit www.thecrownact.com. Sign the petition to help end hair-discrimination in schools and the workplace.
Join Fiercely Curly at club meetings or events to learn more about the challenges and joys of the natural-hair journey. The meetings take place in Mrs. Swavely-Ulloa room L-203 or via zoom on Wednesdays, around 1–3pm. If you’re interested in more club information, contact Mrs. Swavely-Ulloa or Junior and club President Anataysha Leon-Ortiz.