Story by Adelle Honeck | Photos by DaShaun Van Cleave

Having a distinctive hairstyle can be an outlet of self expression allowing people to visually represent themselves in any way they wish, from bangs to dreads to mullets to natural hair. These WKU students explain their personal styles, how they care for their hair and how it is a reflection of themselves.

Jameka Jackson-Tucker

Jameka Jackson-Tucker, Natural Afro

For Jameka Jackson-Tucker, a senior from Louisville, the decision to transition from dreadlocks to her natural hair was not only the beginning of a new hairstyle but also the beginning of a personal journey. After cutting her dreadlocks off, she felt that it was symbolic of letting go of dead weight. The decision has allowed her to experiment with many unique styles, as well as begin to learn more about her hair and give it the proper care and attention necessary.

Jackson-Tucker’s hair care routine is a daily process to keep up with. She describes the process of maintaining her natural hair akin to that of watering a plant. 

“When I was younger, I was in church and someone asked me ‘How often are you watering your garden?’” she said.

That was the moment she realized her hair was a part of her body that needed the same nurturing given to a garden in order for it to grow. Putting water in her hair every day activates her curls, and making sure she uses conditioner every few weeks to help detangle her hair have become important steps. Continuing with the nourishing process, washing her hair regularly also allows her to rid any buildup, and using other hair care products helps to maintain the natural curl pattern.

“Your hair is like a sponge,” Jackson-Tucker said. “Whatever environment you’re in, it kind of absorbs that, so also the energy that’s around hair can hold that too.”

Jackson-Tucker describes her hair as a statement piece to her own personal style. Because her hair is one of the first things people notice about her, it became part of her personality. Treating her hair with the utmost care reflects who she is as a person and makes others take notice of her strong style.

Avery Wells

Avery Wells, Dreadlocks

Avery Wells, a sophomore from Louisville, is his own stylist, caring for and maintaining his hair himself, never really finding himself going to a salon to get his hair styled, which allows him to have control of his self expression. Dreadlocks have always been significant not only to Wells but also in his family, as he shares the same hairstyle with three of his brothers. He said watching hair grow is an expression of life, and that despite it not always going as planned, different journeys are what make people unique.    

Because he is his own stylist tending to his dreadlocks himself, Wells knows what needs to be done to maintain his hairstyle. However, if he were to go to someone else to get it styled, he would ask for a re-twist alongside shampoo and conditioner being a part of his basic hair care routine. 

“Re-twisting, depending on who you are, can happen once a month, once every two months, or once every two weeks,” Wells said. “It just depends on how you like your hair to be and how fresh you want it to look.” 

As for different looks, Wells likes that he can be creative with the hairstyles he uses. He sometimes will put his hair in a ponytail or a bun whenever he wants a change in his look.

Wells describes his hair as a showcase of the journey he has been on in life as well as what he has been through. 

“It’s basically an extension of my body,” he said. “It’s an extension of the things I put into my body and ways that I feel about the environment I’m in.”

His hair is not just a style for him, but something that is meaningful and symbolic of his life experiences. 

Alexander Hoyland

Alex Hoyland, Curly Afro

Alexander Hoyland, another senior from Louisville, is all about embracing his natural hair. Having no need for a stylist, he allows his hair to grow freely. Letting his hair take its natural course has allowed Hoyland to develop his own style based around his laid back personality.

“Honestly, for the longest time I didn’t really know how to style my hair or how to take care of it until I got to college,” Hoyland said. “So, I’ve just been kind of embracing the natural poof, just let it be what it is.”

Much of his daily hair care routine consists of moisturization. Finding the right balance between too much and too little moisture is key so that he doesn’t feel as if his hair is dragging him down throughout the day. When it comes to his night routine, he wears a bonnet to sleep in. Weather can also affect his hair, and rainy days are not his favorite.

“When it rains it kind of sucks,” Hoyland said.

When it comes to different styles, Hoyland said that it depends on his mood. On days where he feels relaxed, he will leave it as it is. Occasionally, during times he is invested in something or has things to get done, he will pull it back into a ponytail.

“I’m really easygoing, just a go with the flow type of person, and I think my hair represents that about me as well,” he said.

However Hoyland’s hair is presented, it is a visual representation of himself and his own calm and collected demeanor.

Hair is an important piece of personal style, alongside our clothes, shoes and makeup. For these students, their hair is not only just a part of their style, but also how they choose to present and showcase their unique qualities. Whether it reflects a personal journey, a family tradition or personality, hair certainly allows these students to express themselves as they choose.

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