As we continue to see blatant attacks on Black hair, Dove and The Crown Coalition’s continued push toward equality in work and school spaces comes as a breath of fresh air in a stifling political climate.

Important research conducted by Dove shows that young girls receive criticism about their hair as early as 8 years old. Together, Dove and Shonda Rhimes are stepping in at a critical time to interject and shape the narrative around black hair in a positive and empowering way.

On Wednesday, Oct.1st in Downey, California, Dove, and The Crown Coalition gathered a group of local girls, policymakers and administrators from all over the country for a powerful and real town hall discussion about hair.

An amazing panel of women was moderated by Dove Self-Esteem Educator, Dre Brown and featured the one and only Shonda Rhimes, Sen. Holly J Mitchell, who introduced Senate Bill 188 (The Crown Act), Janaya ‘Future’ Khan, an activist and Program Director of Media Culture & Economic Justice at Color of Change and Esi Eggleston Bracey, COO and EVP of Unilever Beauty and Personal Care North America.

The panel also invited some very special guests, Faith Fennidy, Tyrelle Davis, and Mya and Deanna Cook — young women who’ve been directly affected by hair discrimination in their schools.

Hearing from these powerful women who touched on everything from how to navigate hostile spaces to remembering and relishing in the pure beauty of Black hair, young girls got an up-close look at what it’s like to stand tall in their beauty.

To further create an engaging and uplifting environment for the young attendees, a workshop was held following the panel discussion that allowed students to share their experiences and participate in self-esteem building activities.

Shonda Rhimes spoke to ESSENCE about the importance of The Crown Act saying, “For a lot of people there’s a metaphysical uniform you have to put on the get the job or fit in at the office and that’s why I think the Crown Act is so important. It’s the piece that makes it possible for you to at least be able to get the job and for your hair to do what it needs to do and I think that’s why this policy is really powerful.”

Rhimes, who we all know and love as a force of nature in Hollywood also noted the importance of having an advocate behind you when it comes to owning your beauty.

“I think I’ve been lucky in the sense that I have this powerful, fierce lion of a mother. In our family, no one ever said anything to us. We lived in the suburbs and it was predominantly white and I never had that experience of a teacher saying something to me or anybody treating me differently,” she shared. “I think it was that my mother was always moving ahead of me and removing the boulders and that’s why I missed them. I always felt like the path was clear.”

In a lot of ways, the Crown Act serves as a path clearing agent to eliminate the boulders that stand in the way of Black and Brown women and girls in their everyday life.

If you too want to take a stand, don’t forget to sign The Crown Act petition to make this a national conversation and to see to it that hair discrimination becomes illegal all over the country.