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Portrait

The Student News Site of East Lansing High School

Portrait

The Student News Site of East Lansing High School

Portrait

Silk press season

Black women share their experiences with their hair
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Photo by Joelle King
Ava Smith (11)

Hair has been seen as a way of expressing oneself for a long time. For many Black women, as the weather gets colder, “silk press season” starts. This is a time when many women decide they want to switch their hair up for the winter season. Some decide to use the decreasing humidity as an opportunity to use heat to straighten curls and coils and show off length. While a silk press is considered a favorite by many, it is not the only option.

For many Black women, braids are a great and popular protective hairstyle. Ava Smith (11) likes getting box braids during the summer and the seasons she plays sports, she feels that it’s less of a hassle.

Lundyn Elam(10) (Photo by Joelle)

“I don’t like doing my natural hair because it’s so thick and hard to do,” Smith said. “So I am always getting it braided.” 

When Smith gets her hair braided she goes to her beautician, Lonnie, who is located in Waverly. The braiding process typically takes about six hours and lasts for about eight weeks. 

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Although Smith has a somewhat complicated relationship with her hair, she loves getting braids, not just because they are protective but also because she loves the way they look.

“I just really like doing braids,” Smith said. “It’s quick, easy, and cute.” 

Another Black girl whose preferred protective style is braids is Lundyn Elam (10).

“I like them because you can do a lot of creative styles with them, while they grow your hair,” Elam said.

When Black women’s hair is in braids it helps create a healthy scalp and develop growth of hair that is stronger and less likely to break off, which is why hair braiding in the Black community is so popular.

Elam wears her protective style during the summer and goes to her friend’s mom to get it braided. For Elam, it takes six hours to braid and they last for a month to a month and a half. 

Although she likes braids, she also likes doing her natural hair.

Emma Bluhm (12) (Photo by Joelle )

“I definitely feel like over time I’ve grown to love my natural hair more,” Elam said “I like to do half of half downs a lot or slicked backs.”

For some, winter does not prompt a protective hairstyle. Many choose to continue with their natural hair, but not always by choice. Plenty of Black women and even men don’t always have the best relationship with their hair due to a lack of knowledge of styling and other factors. One word described by Emma Bluhm (12) would be complicated.

“When I was a kid, like when I started brushing my own hair, I would get dreadlocks, and then I would be really ashamed about that for some reason,” Bluhm said. “I feel a lot better about my hair.”

Many people don’t like to put heat in their hair as often, like  Bluhm and Smith. They would prefer to keep the integrity of their hair.

“If I’m feeling fancy I’ll straighten my hair,” Smith said. “But that takes a lot of work, and it’s not very protective.”

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About the Contributors
Joelle King, Photography Editor
Joelle King is in the class of 2025 and is a Photography Editor for Portrait.  This is her second year on staff as a junior.  Joelle's favorite thing about journalism is telling stories through video. When she is not in the newsroom, Joelle loves competitive dancing and reading.
Omolola Fore Ogunfolabi, Staff Writer
Omolola Fore Ogunfolabi is in the class of 2026 and is a staff writer for Portrait.  This is her first year on staff as a sophomore.  Omolola's favorite thing about journalism is hearing everyones stories and experiences, she believes that they deserve to be heard and journalism gives her a chance to do that.   When she's not in the newsroom, Omolola plays basketball, runs track, goes to the gym, and enjoys shopping.

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