It wasn’t until Aunika Stallings arrived at IU she regularly saw Black women wearing their natural hair. To connect with others who felt similarly, Stallings created an account on Instagram for Black women at IU to share their natural hair experiences.
On the Instagram account @My.Hair.Is, the stories students share vary from their earliest memory of getting their hair done to their journey of accepting and celebrating their natural hair.
Stallings said growing up in a predominantly white area hurt how she viewed her hair.
"I was always really uncomfortable with my hair, and I never wore my natural hair out,” Stallings said. "With the page, I hope to show young Black girls like my sisters that Black girls are beautiful and look beautiful with their natural hair, and shouldn't be afraid to wear it.”
On the page, Stallings discusses topics such as the “Big Chop” and transitioning to natural hair. The Big Chop consists of removing all damaged and unhealthy hair in one sitting.
"When I was debating if I should cut my hair, length played a major part," Stallings said. "The length and straightness of my hair held so much value over me, and I had to realize that it is better to have healthy hair no matter the length or texture."
Originally, Stallings said she created the page as a project to complete an assignment for a class she took last semester at IU.
"My project was about how identity can affect body positivity, and as a Black woman, I know how much our hair can affect our identity,” Stallings said. "I was interested in hearing other girls talk about their hair and see how it shapes the way they view themselves."
In a post on the Instagram page, student Treasure Sparkling advised young Black girls to embrace the versatility of their hair. Black hair can be worn in multiple ways from an afro to a twist out, high puff, soft locs, Bantu knots or braids.
"Don't be afraid to wear your natural hair," Sparkling said. "It really symbolizes who you are, and it's really special to be able to wear it in so many ways."
In another post, student Makiyo Burris discusses the harsh reality of Black hair being considered too “unprofessional” for the workplace. Black women have been fired from their jobs and young girls suspended for simply wearing their natural hair.
"Natural hair is professional," Burris said. "You shouldn't have to change your hair to fit into society's small box of what is considered acceptable.”
In the future, Stallings said she hopes to continue interviewing students, partnering with student organizations from IU and other universities, and including more informational posts about natural hair.
"By sharing these stories, I hope to give Black girls the representation they deserve that uplifts and allows them to define their beauty," Stallings said. "I hope that continues in the future."