Hair Taller!

2 wonderful PCVs and I facilitated a multi- session workshop on Self-Esteem/ Self-Confidence & Natural Beauty back in August on the Atlantic Coast of Nicaragua.

The idea for this workshop stemmed from a comment made by a PCV about how her counterpart was also trying new hairstyles and it just never seemed to work or make her happy. I jokingly offered to come over to her site and give her a hair tutorial. From there, we kept toying with the idea until we realized that it would make a GREAT workshop and could incorporate discussions on self-image, self-confidence, inner beauty, at home beauty methods and more. Traveling to her site would take some planning, considering she lives on the complete opposite coast of Nicaragua, but it would also be an amazing experience considering how different the Atlantic coast is in comparison to the pacific coast.

Corn Island Parade

One of the biggest differences is in Chinandega, there are very little black Nicaraguans. However, where we did the workshop (on the Atlantic Coast) there are many, many, black people. Because of this, it was interesting to participate in the conversations held regarding self-esteem and conceptions of beauty. Another huge difference is the language. Many natives are bilingual in Spanish and creole English. We held 4 sessions in total and no 2 were alike in terms of conversation or language used.

The main goals of the hair taller were:

    •    Encourage young adults and children to develop their inner beauty, while stressing the importance of maintaining a high self-esteem.
    •    Discuss barriers and outside pressures that may affect self-esteem/ self-confidence.
    •    Teach elementary school students and college students how to maintain their natural hair as a means to increasing their overall confidence with respect to their physical appearance, hopefully leading to a boost in self-esteem.
    •    Improve general health by promoting and discussing the many benefits of natural beauty and natural lifestyle.

We started by showing "Good Hair" by Chris Rock which is a documentary film that goes into detail about a number of important themes, including: the dangers of chemically processing your hair, the benefits and drawbacks of natural hair, the methods used by advertisers in the beauty industry, as well as the way ones appearance can drastically affect their self-esteem.
A PCV explaining the importance of exercise

After viewing the video we started a discussion about these topics, including similarities and differences in Nicaragua and on the different coasts of Nicaragua. This was always the most interesting part for me. I remember hearing comments on how the viewers had no idea black women relaxed their hair to make it straight (mentioned by both Mestizo Nicaraguans and other Americans volunteers) or how young girls looked forward to being able to "style" their hair when its straight since its "prettier". There was even a young teenage girl that stated she would stop relaxing her hair now that she knows how harmful the chemical can be for her health. At the college campus film showing, we even started to discuss the industry standard and how that's starting to change a bit, but how we as consumers need to bring out more change.
We even showed the Video on the Ferry over to Corn Island

After the discussion, I gave a presentation on natural hair. It was rewarding to see the young girls interested in the different styles and techniques that can be done on natural hair. Older women as well asked for more information and I hope that they are researching the many websites that have information on Natural Hair.
Conch Salad

Fresh Conch- Caught while Snorkeling!

Parade on Corn Island
Celebrating the end of Slavery

The workshop ending with a presentation on natural ways to bring out your natural beauty, including the importance on getting enough sleep, drinking water, regular exercise and a healthy diet. We also included recipes for natural face masks, hair conditioners, and natural scrubs.

I think this was such a great idea for an original and creative way to approach an important issue: promoting self-confidence.

The owner of the hostel where we stayed on Corn Island

The Plane back to Managua

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