Boston meet-ups help local women ‘go natural’

By 
Vanessa Lewis, Special to the Reporter
Jan. 8, 2014

A recent meet-up of the Boston Natural Hair group at UMass Boston.

The African proverb “It takes a village to raise a child” has many applications in the city of Boston.

A group of local women are taking the collective approach to navigating a particularly tricky element of their lives: natural hair care. For many women of color, transitioning from chemically treated to natural tresses comes with a steep learning curve— one that can be a stressful, time-consuming and endeavor.

In 2009, a Dorchester-based group began meeting locally to change that dynamic. The group now boasts over 500 members and hosts free workshops bi-monthly— including one that is coming up this Saturday, Jan. 11 (1-3 p.m.) at UMass Boston.

Whether meeting virtually or in person, the Meet-Up group takes a community approach by sharing ideas, products, and learning new regimens in the hopes of maintaining a healthier head of hair.

“Something like a small workshop at Whole Foods, on making hair organic hair care products, is exciting for local women. But cities like Chicago, NY, and Atlanta have been doing these types of events for years,” says Modjossorica Élysée, 28, the lead organizer of the Boston group since last August. “I am learning a lot about the needs of natural women in Boston. People want answers and I want this to be a place where they can find them.”

To “go natural” means unlearning the things you once knew about managing your hair – for instance, chemically treated hair needs to avoid moisture, while natural hair requires moisture.

Parents will often make the decision to chemically process a child’s hair at a young age. Once the young woman is old enough to care for her own hair she will often continue to have it chemically processed out of habit.

In the groups early days, the Boston Natural Hair gatherings were strictly social – dinners, mixers, and other opportunities to fellowship with one another. Today it is a sub-culture of natural hair enthusiasts gathering together regularly to educate one another.

Shauna Worrell-Waldron, of Mattapan, has been natural since 2009. She joined the group in August of 2009 to connect will like-minded people who share the common interest in educating themselves on caring for their natural hair. Shauna has attended about a dozen Boston Naturals sponsored events since becoming a member. Product swaps and tutorials are among her favorites.

“A meet up group is worthwhile it’s both educational in regard to natural hair and a way to meet new people. To sum it up love, peace, and coiliness”, says Worrell-Waldron.

This Saturday’s meet-up at UMass Boston already has 77 people signed up to attend a two-hour workshop that will feature demonstrations from Rebeka Gabriel, the owner of Styllistik Salon. Another upcoming workshop include: “Naturally Informed” Sunday, Jan. 19th from 4-7 p.m. at Q Salon & Spa in Jamaica Plain.

Membership to the group is free and open to the public. In addition to workshop there are over a dozen “perks” for members to take advantage of; including discounts to local natural hair care suppliers and other boutiques.

For more information or to join the group log onto http://www.meetup.com/BostonNaturals/.

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