While working with youth in the foster care system for over a decade in Los Angeles, Atlanta, and Chicago, I noticed one constant, disparaging trend: a lack of adequate hair care and products for young women of color.
As a social worker, I have faced the harsh reality of foster parents refusing placement of African-American girls in their homes because of difficulties involved with hair – particularly the cost and energy required to properly maintain it. I have seen these girls at school and in court with unkept, severely damaged hair that has been over processed from chemicals, and some even suffering from scalp infections as a result of sharing combs and brushes. When adolescent girls are placed into the foster care or juvenile delinquency system, they are expected to know how to maintain their own hair yet are not provided with the right tools and products best suited for their texture. Further, access to professional resources and education surrounding proper hair care is rarely provided. This can lead to not only damaged hair but an even more damaged sense of self-worth and confidence.
Loving Me was started in 2015, with a vision to empower girls to love themselves unconditionally starting with what they see in the mirror. I began working with the “CSEC” (Commercially Sexually Exploited Children) and soon discovered that one recruitment tool traffickers used was the promise of the glamour with the opportunity to get their hair and nails done. Our mission at Loving Me: Empowering Girls To Love Themselves Unconditionally, is to provide girls in foster care with access to hair products, professional hair care services, and education on how to properly maintain their own hair. To achieve this goal I created the LOVE BOX.
Loving Me: Empowering Girls To Love Themselves Unconditionally, needs your support to ensure that our girls do not get overlooked. We have a goal to provide 500 “Love Boxes” to girls in group homes, residential treatment facilities, juvenile detention centers and state probation camps. Your contribution will go towards creating a complete hair care styling kit including: shampoo, conditioner, daily moisturizer, oil, edge control, style definition creme for natural styles, a bonnet, hair ties, 2-combs, and a brush.
Thanks to a partnership Evelyn’s B&B Beauty Supply, located in Kansas City, MO, we have managed to keep the cost of each “Love Box” to approximately $30. Loving Me was also blessed to have the first 100 “Love Boxes” paid for by The Children's Law Center of California which represents 35,000 foster kids in the state, the box filling was donated by Paper Mart and the boxes were donated by Del-Tho Industries.
My grandmother owned and operated Community Barber and Beauty Shop in Kansas City, Mo, for over 40 years and proudly provided affordable hair care services to her community. I spent many summers cleaning and running errands, but my favorite part of the day was when I was allowed to go into the back to the beauty salon. I enjoyed watching the stylist creatively transform their clients hair into a work of art making women look and feel beautiful. It became evident to me then how happy these women would be when their hair was finally done, even if they had been sitting in the shop for hours they left confident, proud and smiling.
Many of us have been privileged to learn how to maintain and properly care for our hair from our own mothers, grandmothers, stylist, and role models however, not all are afforded that privilege. We ask for your help to provide that privilege to young girls of color that have not been as fortunate.
We appreciate your time and consideration and hope to hear from you soon.
Temica Wofford, MA