With loose flowing finger coils and glittering accessories, WNBA player Lisa Leslie proved she's a force to be reckoned with both on the court and on the red carpet. She attended The ESPYS on Wednesday in a tastefully ruffled gown that screams summer glam.
Take a close look at this photo and you'll notice Alicia Keys is not wearing any makeup. That's right, the 35-year-old singer elected to attend Sunday's event completely fresh-faced. Regardless of whether it was simply a personal choice or a deliberately political statement, I love her for being comfortable enough in her own skin to stand proudly before the cameras and demonstrate to the world that beauty is whatever you want it to be.
Are you going to be in Baltimore this fall? If so, be sure to check out this natural hair event that promises to be a fabulous time. The evening celebrates the many achievements of iconic hairdressing legend Floyd Kenyatta, and will include live entertainment, guest speakers, prizes, and a fashion show. For more information and to get your tickets, click here!
Natural Hair Players Night
October 3, 2015
Arena Players 801
McCulloh Street, Baltimore
I think I'm addicted to natural hair events. Last week I attended THREE in the span of four days. I just can't get enough. On Tuesday, Ryerson University hosted a panel of natural hair advocates at an event called My Hair, My Look, My Swag as part of their Black History Month lineup. In attendance were a variety of speakers, vendors, Ryerson students, and members of the general public. I was pleasantly surprised to see a handful of male attendees scattered throughout the crowd, and there were even two on the panel. (I'd be lying if I said I wasn't also pleasantly surprised to have been given this amazing free cookie just for showing up.)
Because of the diversity in the room, we were able to dive into an array of questions regarding issues like how natural hair is perceived in romantic relationships and what it's like for men to rock their natural hair in an office environment. It was fascinating to hear the guys' take on what natural hair means to them. I thought it was especially interesting when Greg H'Side Samba, a professional dancer, stated that the decision whether or not to have natural hair boils down to health above all else. He cited the dangers of chemical burns from relaxing as reasons he wouldn't even consider going down that road, regardless of the styles relaxed hair would enable him to achieve. While it is possible to have a flourishing scalp and lustrous hair while relaxed, as some panelists pointed out, Greg believed the associated risks weren't worth it. (I tend to agree.) Even though the subject matter sometimes grew a little sombre there was always an air of humour, and we laughed constantly.
You'd think I'd have been exhausted from all the natural hair chat by this time, but the very next day I excitedly attended another meetup, this one called Curls, Coils, and Cocktails. It was hosted by one of the panelists from the Ryerson do, Bridget "Bee" Quammie, and her pal Ann Marie aka SoulAfrodisiac.
When I first arrived I was a bit nervous because it seemed everyone was already comfortably seated next to someone they knew. I timidly peeked around the tables in search of a free chair, hoping I hadn't already been at it too long. You see, I'm one of those people who feels hella awkward approaching strangers, but once the introductions are over with, we're BFFs. And that's exactly what happened when I spotted an open seat at a table with two ladies seated diagonally from each other. I was so glad I had somewhere to sit, and even more excited by the fact that they were both so friendly ... and funny!
The event was phenomenal. Bridget and Ann Marie gave us all a chance to socialize over appies and dranks at our tables before launching into the program. Their style of questioning each other and then inviting each of us to share our experiences and opinions was refreshing because unlike other events where there's a clearly established group of speakers and the audience is deemed separate, this felt like a group discussion where we were all invited to speak up whenever we wished. Some people ended up sharing some really personal and beautiful stories, which made the meetup that much more powerful and worthwhile. Overall, it was a fantastic opportunity to get in touch with other naturalistas - and enjoy some tasty cocktails!
Looking for a natural hair event in your area? Click here!
Celebrity hairstylist Janet Jackson admitted she's all about the weave life because of the ease and effortlessness it affords her. She cited the difficulty of managing her own natural hair (which extends past her shoulders) when she has to be up as early as 3:00 AM for work, and that weaves are the best way for her to save time in her busy schedule and still look professional. Even though I've never had anything against weaves (I've been known to rock one on occasion), hearing what she had to say gave me a new appreciation for what other naturalistas go through.
Remember that post I wrote about the importance of surrounding yourself with other naturalistas as you embark on your hair journey? Well, on Sunday I practiced what I preached and attended a meetup hosted by Toronto Naturals called The Politics of Black Hair. The discussion of the day centred around the question "Is protective styling political or simply a style choice?" Needless to say, the conversation got pretty colourful! Monique London of London Ivy Products led the event by posing a series of questions to a panel of five naturalistas who have each found great success in the realms of vlogging, blogging, hairstyling, jewelry design, and wig making, to name a few. Because of their varied backgrounds, every panelist was able to bring a fascinating and unique perspective to the table.
I feel incredibly fortunate to have experienced the event at all because despite arriving twenty minutes early, I was too late to buy tickets at the door! I know, I know... I should have purchased an advanced ticket, but this event was so hot even those had sold out the week prior. It was disappointing to be turned away, but then someone piped up suggesting I stick around just in case there was a no-show at the last minute. I could hear upstairs that the venue was getting pretty full already, but I had a feeling it would be worth the wait. After all one of my favourite YouTubers, Toni Daley, was on the panel and I was pumped to see her in person. Luckily the event organizers were able to squeeze me in literally at the last second, and they even had some free lipbalm left!
When I got upstairs, I was pleasantly surprised by how funky the venue was. Harlem Restaurant (on Richmond and Church) has an eclectic and casual vibe to it. The stage area looks a bit like Graffiti Alley -vibrant hues of different paints, random cables strewn on door hooks, and exposed brick walls. Much to everyone's enjoyment the bar was fully stocked and there were original paintings of natural hair hung around the room for us to feast our eyes on.
The panel itself was lighthearted yet thought-provoking. Monique (or Mo for short) did an awesome job of gently guiding the conversation from general subjects like what constitutes a protective style to more serious issues about hair envy, hair type discrimination, and self-love. It was enlightening to hear the panelists describe their personal experiences. Some views I could identify with, others I hadn't considered before. At one point the discussion turned to whether or not women who wear weaves 24/7 are purposefully hiding their natural hair out of shame or embarrassment. This was particularly interesting to me, because lately I've been trying to avoid using extension hair and instead celebrate what my Mama gave me. To this, Toni Daley made a solid point. She paralleled the use of weaves to wearing makeup.
[Paraphrased] Some people wear makeup only to fancy occasions. Others wear it whenever they leave the house. And then there are those who wear makeup even when they're in their house all day. It's a personal choice. You can't say I don't love my skin just because I wear makeup, just as you can't say I don't love my hair if I wear weaves all the time.
One of the best things about the panel was -- as far as I could tell -- no two ladies had the exact same curl pattern. There was everything from famous vlogger Natural Neiicey's luscious, loose curls to the wonderfully kinkier coils of curly hair specialists Keina Morgan and Nicky Splinta. That variety gave a definite credibility and approachability to the event. It felt inclusive and honest, which I think is crucial for the natural hair community.
Then came the best part: FREE PRIZES! I was impressed by how many goodie bags Toronto Naturals had sourced for the prize draws. There were so many sponsors the giveaways just kept rolling. For once in my life I had a winning ticket in hand and landed a highly coveted gift basket from Rainbow Kisses Cosmetics! It contained two striking lipsticks (one in plum, the other a deep metallic turquoise) and a gift card. Hilariously enough, after collecting my prize two different people come up to me asking if I really wanted to keep the lipstick and if we could work out some sort of trade! Rainbow Kisses is just that good!
Despite lasting about three hours, the meetup seemed to fly by. Before I knew it the panel had concluded and everyone was encouraged to network around the room. I was glad to have the opportunity to catch up with my hairstylist Glenna Sandy who has had my back since I moved to Toronto and was helpless managing my own hair. I also got to fangirl Toni Daley and chat with her about the amazing movement she started, the #SupportASista campaign that encourages people to shop locally and support women-led, Black-owned companies. Janet Murphy of Roots to Curls was there too. She explained to me how exciting the last few months have been as she and her long-time friend and business partner have worked hard to get Roots to Curls off the ground.
Overall, it was really inspiring to be surrounded by so many independent, successful, and forward-thinking Black women! Big thanks to Toronto Naturals for continuing to host events like this. Can't wait for the next one!
Have you attended any natural hair events lately? Share your experience with me in a comment below!
Yesterday was a great day for natural hair in Toronto! It was the ninth annual Natural Hair and Beauty Show, featuring both local and international vendors and stylists. I had the fortune of modelling kinky crochet twists for natural hairdresser Hair By Glenna in her runway showcase, and it was a blast! She had seven models in total, each rocking a different protective style. Glenna excels at creating low-manipulation hairdos such as bantu knots, Senegalese twists, and crochet braids, all of which were prominently displayed for the audience's enjoyment.
Preparing backstage, I couldn't get over the variety of styles packed in one room! Giant afros, locs, updos, fades, extensions... you name it. Everyone looked absolutely stunning. Moreover, there were vendors galore offering all the essentials like shea butter and conditioning oils. Jewellers, painters, and other artisans also spread their afrocentric wares across a sea of tables.
What was most exciting, though, was the atmosphere. The whole event had such an air of community and camaraderie. There was no competition between models, no animosity between vendors. It was purely a celebratory collaboration. I experienced this firsthand when I arrived and was asked to put on some lipstick. I am a bit of a tomboy and I don't own a single palette of makeup, but fortunately a really sweet criminology major named Sara hooked me up with a deep shade of maroon before I could even ask. That moment when she introduced herself and handed me her lipstick encompassed what the natural hair movement is all about: naturalistas supporting other naturalistas.
Thinking of attending next year's event? Keep an eye on www.torontonaturals.ca for more info!
What're you doing on Saturday? If you're free, you should definitely head over to the Toronto Natural Hair and Beauty Show taking place September 20-21. It's a fabulous weekend full of fashion, glamour, and education and it all goes down at the Japanese Canadian Cultural Centre. I had the pleasure of attending last year's event and could not believe its magnitude! There are dozens of vendors, designers, and stylists each with their own impressive skill sets and knowledge to share. The Saturday is comprised of workshops that cover all kinds of topics, from hairstyling to nutrition. Sunday wraps it all up with a grand fashion show that exhibits looks from local jewellers, clothing designers, and hairdressers. It's an awesome event you won't want to miss!
For more information and to get your tickets, visit www.torontonaturals.ca.