WLOX - Team Gulf Coast Naturals is an organization that gives support and encouragement to black women who choose stop using chemical straighteners and embrace their hair's natural beauty.
"We were a group of six ladies pretty much all frustrated with the struggles of a natural hair journey," said Sheila McGee, member.
In the five years since it was formed, Team Gulf Coast Naturals' mission has been to spread the word in Mississippi, Alabama and Louisiana that natural hair is beautiful.
"We do travel along the Gulf Coast and host different events," said McGee. "The main objective is to empower women who are wearing natural hair and show them ways to take care of it featuring different local stylists".
McGee says for many of the women coming to the natural hair meet-ups, hair that isn't chemically relaxed is a whole new world. They arrive full of concerns and asking questions such as 'Do I have to cut my short?' ,'Why is my hair so dry?' or 'What does my natural texture look like?'
"Most of them have been relaxed from the time they were very little girls. Five and up, and I've even heard some people say they were relaxed younger than age five," McGee said. "So most of them have not seen their natural hair since they were very young girls at which time, their mothers were taking care of their hair. "
Team Gulf Coast Naturals also puts on hands on workshops just for teen girls showing them to do styles like twist outs, bantu knots and finger coils.
"Just kind of empower them that it's okay. This is what you were born with and that's okay," said McGee. "I have run into a lot of people who say natural hair is not for everybody. My come back is always the same. 'You were born with this. How is it not for you?'"
The group hopes with a little education and a lot of support, that every woman who wants to will have the confidence to rock her natural hair.
"Their main concern is what their hair is going to look like texture wise. Everybody wants curly hair. Sometimes that's just not the case," said McGee. "Sometimes that's not what we were born with and you have to find ways to manage what you have."
On Feb. 20, Team Gulf Coast Naturals will hold its five year anniversary event called "Fierce, Fly, Fabulous". It will be at Mississippi Gulf Coast Community College Jeff Davis campus. You can purchase tickets on Eventbrite. For more information contact email@example.com or 228-222-0800.
McGee said, "A lot of young girls look at me when I go places. They're talking to me. It's a joy for young girl to look at me and see that I have hair that looks like hers. That's a joy to me that she'll grow up and know that it's okay to wear her hair like this."