Natural kinks, coils, and curls are one of the most distinguishing features on any black girl, yet African Canadian girls are pressured to alter the natural texture and appearance of their hair.
Many girls grow to believe that naturally textured hair is unattractive.
The Power to Girls Foundation, a non-profit organization, is debunking this idea with its Roots of a Girl workshop on July 19 and August 2 from 11:00- 4:00pm at 720 Bathurst Street. The workshop is for girls of African-Canadian descent of all hair textures, including chemically treated hair, between the ages of fifteen to twenty-two.
The Power to Girls Foundationrecognized a significant shift in attitude toward natural hair after noticing the recent popularity of natural hair stylists on YouTube and blogs around the world. Black women were slowly becoming interested in reverting to their roots. In response to this movement, Power to Girls partnered with I Love My Hair and together they created the Roots of a Girl workshop, encouraging black girls to understand their hair and to improve their self-esteem by embracing their natural hair, no matter the texture.
“There is no such thing as bad hair. The moment you say you have bad hair, that’s exactly what it’s going to be for you,” says Aisha Addo, founder of the Power To Girls Foundation.
Aisha Addo is a natural hair advocate with a unique approach to natural hair care. Aisha doesn’t have a popular hair inspiration and she doesn't think you should either. Rather than identify with popular hair labels such as type 4C or 4A hair, she describes her own kinky, soft and hard hair, simply as “African Hair”. Aisha’s go-to product is Raw Shea Butter and her favourite style is wearing an afro and allowing her hair to breathe. While Aisha might occasionally look at style inspirations online, ultimately she believes that everyone’s hair is unique and that one shouldn’t expect their hair to look and behave in the same way as someone else’s. “You’re your own hair inspiration. Love your hair and what it can and cannot do."
Aisha and her close friends launched the Power to Girls Foundation in 2011. The organization emerged from Aisha’s personal life experience as an immigrant from Ghana.
Aisha grew up in the Canadian foster care system where she struggled to find herself. She did not have mentors or people to look up to, as her mother and other family members still lived in Ghana. Aisha had low self-esteem, but realized that she wasn’t alone. She found many of her female peers within the community had no one to speak to openly about some of the issues they were facing. Aisha decided to start a support group at her church called My Sister and Me, a program for girls to mentor and be an ear to each other’s issues and concerns. Soon enough, the girls came together to start the Power to Girls Foundation. What started as an outlet for Aisha has now helped many other young women in the community to grow as well.
The Roots of a Girl workshop will feature a panel discussion/wisdom circle in which participants will discuss the history of black hair, the use of chemicals in hair and its effects, and healthy hair care. In addition, important topics such as; the ways in which body image is portrayed in media, mental health, and personal hygiene will be discussed. Day two of the workshop will offer hair clinics, DIYS, and hair tutorials performed by professional hairdressers and stylists to assist the girls with the long-term maintenance of natural hair. “Don’t rush the natural hair process. Sometimes we try so hard to get to the end, that we don’t learn about ourselves in the process," says Addo.