Upcoming Lecture Discusses Hair, Culture, Nonverbals

Funky hats, ponytails, headbands, everyone knows the struggle of a bad hair day.

This is part of what Dr. Evene Estwick, an associate communication studies professor, and Dr. Gina Zanolini Morrison, associate professor of global cultures, will cover in the talk, “I Hear What Your Hair is Saying; The Non-Verbals of Your Hair.”

The event is set to occur in the ballroom in the SUB today starting at 5 p.m. This event will be an hour long.

“Dr. Morrison has a daughter who is African-American, so we started talking about hair,” Estwick said. “My communications standpoint made me realize the non-verbal communication of hair, as in what your hair says about you and who you are. (Dr. Morrison) looks more at the cultural signals that hair can show.”

This event is not the first time that the two have tackled the concept. They gave this talk about five years ago at the Pennsylvania Chapter of National Association for Multicultural Educators (PA-NAME).

The two have also given this talk at Juniata College as well as Messiah College and felt this was the perfect time to bring this talk to Wilkes University for the first time.

Several students addressed what their hair means to them.

Mmachi Dimoriaku, a junior theatre major, spoke about the importance of her own hair.

“My hair means everything to me,” said Dimoriaku. “Once when I was a child, my mother cut off all of my hair as a punishment. When my hair finally grew back, I took it as a new meaning of loving yourself. I became very proud of my hair. When I am wearing different styles, it feels like I am wearing the strength and determination of my ancestors.”

Kayle Acker-Carter, a sophomore environmental engineering major, commented on her hairstyle, and how being away from her own hairdresser has changed her hair routine.

“My hair has been relaxed and straight for most of my life. This was mostly to make it more manageable for my mom to do my hair,” said Acker-Carter. “Now in college I cannot get home to get my hair relaxed all of the time, so I have gone with a more natural hairstyle with my crochet hair.”

Going over just how expensive and time-consuming hairstyles certain are, and the great lengths some people go to have certain hairstyles is a large proponent of the event.

Acker-Carter also emphasized how people treat her now that she has this new hairstyle.

“More people seem to feel the need to touch my hair. Many women of color face this issue. People just want to touch black girl’s hair. I am not a dog, I do not want you to touch me. There is no need for anyone to pet my hair. I am just a person with curly hair. I am no different from you. Please do not pet me.”

These feelings, as well as other kinds of emotions that different types of hair evoke, will be a key part of the presentation.

“We will be placing different images on the screen, which we will follow up with question and answers from the audience. This sort of activity is something that they can get involved in at the talk,” said Estwick.

This talk is one that all of the students at Wilkes can learn from, according to Estwick. From how people different from you have to treat their hair, to what someone’s hair truly means about them. The event will be a safe space to ask honest questions and further understand different cultures.

If there are any further questions or concerns about this event, contact the Associate Director of Diversity, Erica Acosta through her email, [email protected].