Showing off natural hair at the Soda City Market. photo by Jessica Boyd
What does natural hair suggest about identity, productivity and aptitude?
Really, it depends on whom you ask.
Where others might see unkempt and wild hairstyling as a personality flaw, Jessica Boyd and Maureen Ochola find beauty and self-expression in the textures of natural hairstyles.
Seven years after radio host Don Imus referred to the Rutgers University women’s basketball team as “nappy-headed hoes,” Boyd and Ochola are determined to add a dynamic twist to the hair discussion with the inaugural Miss Naturally Crowned Carolina.
On April 12 at the S.C. Department of Archives and History, 10 contestants with an array of styled tresses will compete at the sold-out pageant. The pageant’s goal is to promote hairstyles that haven’t been altered chemically through perming, relaxing or straightening, but it’s also a fundraiser to jumpstart Quench Natural Beauty Boutique, a supply store dedicated to natural, Afro-centric hair.
“People really think that there’s something wrong with the way your hair is coming out of your head. That’s just not OK,” Ochola says. “We just want to show the impactful and beautiful side of natural hair.”
“For me, going natural was one of those things that I needed to do to feel like my spirit was in a good place,” Boyd adds. “It is beautiful. It’s how we were made.”
But in a society where conformity is sometimes expected, natural beauty isn’t always accepted. For some who wear their hair naturally, it’s either the straightening comb or an uphill climb professionally and socially.
“There’s a whole system you’re fighting if you wear your hair naturally, even if you don’t intend to,” Boyd says. “I’m just wearing my hair as it grows. I don’t know why that’s crazy, but it’s crazy for some reason.”
Boyd and Ochola, both 26, have been friends since they were students at Richland Northeast High School. Ochola’s mother has a natural hair.
“I’m shocked that people think it’s such a big deal to rock natural hair,” says Ochola, who is an industrial engineer for an Atlanta firm.
The joke at Spelman College, where Boyd went to school, is that after students take a class on the African Diaspora, they change their hair.
“It kind of happened that way, kind of not,” Boyd, who does small business branding and guerrilla social media marketing, says. “I’ve always changed my hair, so people weren’t like, ‘I can’t believe you did that.’”
Well, some Columbia acquaintances said as much, which is one reason why Boyd and Ochola want to open a boutique in Soda City. And Miss Naturally Crowned Carolina is like an invitation to experience a movement that invites others to wrap their heads around it.
Contestants, who had to answer essay questions about their natural hair journey, were found through social media. A few weeks ago, the Crowned Carolina contestants went to Soda City Market for an interactive demonstration, which included a natural styling competition.
“That alone is powerful, because certain people have an image of what natural hair looks like,” Ochola says. “People got to experience the uniqueness and versatility. Society makes it seem like it’s unkempt or wild.”
The participants at the market got to see what women and men who wear their hair like Boyd and Ochola go through when they do their hair in the morning.
And they got to feel the curly wigs. For a morning, at least, Boyd, Ochola and the contestants were able to avoid the, “Can I touch your hair?” question.
For the curious, the answer really depends on whom you ask.
“You don’t know where their hands have been,” Boyd says.
“I guess having your hair natural is more inviting, but most of the time they touch it before” asking, Ochola adds. “You’ve got to kind of do that step-to-the-side maneuver.”
Miss Naturally Crowned Carolina will be held from 6 to 9 p.m. April 12 at the S.C. Department of Archives and History, 8301 Parklane Road. Tickets are sold out. For more information, visit http://www.naturallycrowned.com.
King Lear in Finlay Park
October 16th-18th and 22nd-25th, the South Carolina Shakespeare Company presents William Shakespeare’s King Lear. All performances held at the Finlay Park Ampitheatre at 7:30 PM. For tickets and more information, click here or call 803-665-2000.
Bluegrass, Bidding, and BBQ
Join The Palladium Society Thursday, October 23rd from 7-10 p.m. for its 11th annual silent auction, featuring music by The Mustache Brothers and catering by Bourbon and The Oak Table. Tickets are $30 at the door and include admission, drinks, and food. Get yours online now!
3LAU on Sunday, October 26th and the Unofficial Skrillex Mothership Tour After-Party on the 27th. More information and tickets for both can be found here. VIP tables available.
The Other Place at Trustus Theatre
Juliana Smithton is a successful neurologist whose life seems to be coming unhinged. A mystery unfolds as fact blurs with fiction, past collides with present and the elusive truth of Juliana’s mental health boils to the surface in The Other Place, running at Trustus Theatre October 17th through November 1st. There will be a talk-back following the matinee on October 19th. Tickets can be purchased here or by calling the box office at 803-254-9732.
Four Miles, Twelve Doughnuts
Winston’s Wish aims to increase knowledge and understanding of children with autism, and you can help by participating in the 4.donut Race on October 25th. Start at Edventure Children’s Museum, run 2 miles to Krispy Kreme, eat 12 doughnuts, and run back! Registration is required and can be done here before October 23rd at 5 p.m.
SEARCH FREE TIMES
Local business is searching for new associates who are looking for a fun environment to earn great wages. Great position for college students/recent graduates. Must be well-mannered with excellent customer service skills/work ethic/ability to lift heavy items/must have valid Driver’s License. Call 803-376-4884 or email resume: email@example.com.
Cupcake now hiring a closing manager. Must be outgoing, customer service focused, able to work evenings and weekends. Apply in person. 1213 Lincoln Street, Columbia SC 29201. freshcupcakes.com
U.S. Security Associates
Now hiring immediately for armed and unarmed security officers. WE TRAIN YOU! Columbia & surrounding areas. ussecurityassociates.com
Real Estate Spotlight
BB&T Home Mortgage Sharing knowledge with satisfied homeowners. BBT.com/Mortgage
SC HousingFinancing Housing. Building SC. To find out if you qualify or for more information visit schousing.com
Town Center Apartment Homes in Lake Carolina THE PURSUIT OF HAPPINESS. Bran new apartments inside award-winning Lake Carolina. towncenteratlakecarolina.com