Curls Gone Wild: Group celebrates natural hair

Professional makeup artist Alisha Moten of West Haven works on model Brittany Walls of Milford during a class with makeup tips for women of color during the Curls Gone Wild Gala on Saturday, Nov. 18, 2017, in New London. The event celebrated natural beauty with a series of workshops, demos and products.  (Sarah Gordon/The Day)
Professional makeup artist Alisha Moten of West Haven works on model Brittany Walls of Milford during a class with makeup tips for women of color during the Curls Gone Wild Gala on Saturday, Nov. 18, 2017, in New London. The event celebrated natural beauty with a series of workshops, demos and products. (Sarah Gordon/The Day)

New London — Janelle Posey-Green wants to erase the stigma of so-called good hair versus bad hair, and in the process improve the self-esteem of those who have struggled with their identity simply because of society’s standards of beauty.

It’s the reason that Posey-Green, a licensed clinical social worker and therapist at Magnolia Wellness in New London, started a Facebook community group two years ago called Southeastern CT Naturalistas focused on empowering and supporting women of color with kinky, curly, coily or wavy hair.

“It’s one of my passions. I love to make women feel beautiful. We can empower each other. Hair is an important part of this,” Posy-Green said.

Posey brought her infectious smile and spirit to a community event called Curls Gone Wild on Saturday, in part a gala to celebrate naturally curly hair.

“We’re empowering people to be their natural selves,” Posey-Green said. “You don’t have to relax your hair. You don’t have to straighten it if you don’t want to. You can coil it. You can braid it. You can put purple in it. You can do whatever you want to it. It’s yours. It’s beautiful. If you learn anything today it’s to learn you’re beautiful just the way you are. OK?”

In addition to discussions about natural hair, the event included styling tutorials, product swaps, workshops, giveaways and a performance by The Lion’s Den Dance Company. The event was hosted in partnership with the Connecticut College Center for the Comparative Study of Race and Ethnicity and Dr. Andrea Baldwin, director of Africana Studies at the college.

Posey-Green explained that “good hair” is supposedly hair that is manageable, or “you don’t have to do much to it to make it look nice,” as opposed to the kinky, coily hair that communities of color historically have considered “bad” hair.

Marcela Lee, who has a multicultural background and attended Saturday’s event explained further.

“I have very curly hair. Growing up it was not black enough for the black kids and not white enough for the white kids,” she said. “I had a hard time understanding how come when we go to the beach Samantha can get in the water and get back out and she doesn’t have to worry about brushing her hair or putting anything in there. I looked like a hot mess. Like hay. Frizzy.”

She said hair texture creates something of an identity crisis that kids from different ethnic backgrounds face but shouldn’t have to.

“I’ve been natural for 10 years now. I embrace my curls now. I’m not using chemicals to alter the composition of my hair, to make it smoother to be more like Samantha,” she said.

Instead, she said she uses natural oils, like coconut oil.

“It’s a real cultural thing. I like that we’re having conversations about this,” Lee said.

Posey-Green said she hoped to further develop a community in Southeastern Connecticut and be able to hold more events in the future.

g.smith@theday.com

Professional makeup artist Alisha Moten of West Haven works on model Brittany Walls of Milford during a class with makeup tips for women of color during the Curls Gone Wild Gala on Saturday, Nov. 18, 2017, in New London.  The event celebrated natural beauty with a series of workshops, demos and products.  (Sarah Gordon/The Day)
Professional makeup artist Alisha Moten of West Haven works on model Brittany Walls of Milford during a class with makeup tips for women of color during the Curls Gone Wild Gala on Saturday, Nov. 18, 2017, in New London. The event celebrated natural beauty with a series of workshops, demos and products. (Sarah Gordon/The Day)
Lion's Den Dance Company performs during the Curls Gone Wild Gala on Saturday, Nov. 18, 2017, in New London.  The event celebrated natural beauty with a series of workshops, demos and products.  (Sarah Gordon/The Day)
Lion's Den Dance Company performs during the Curls Gone Wild Gala on Saturday, Nov. 18, 2017, in New London. The event celebrated natural beauty with a series of workshops, demos and products. (Sarah Gordon/The Day)

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