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.
With the 88th Academy Awards set to take place this Sunday, it's hard to avoid the heated controversy aptly summarized by the hashtag #OscarsSoWhite. Everyone seems to have an opinion on it, which makes the conversation fascinating... and frustrating. On one hand I love that an issue as crucial as diversity in film has become topical, but while exposing the industry for its extreme shortcomings in hiring actors/actresses of varied ethnic backgrounds it has somehow devolved into an unsettlingly irrational debate. It's terrifying to think that in the year 2016 people can still argue in favour of blatant injustice, using the same "logic" as men's rights activists and #AllLivesMatter proponents. That's why I was elated when I discovered this rally cry of a video that the good folks at Last Week Tonight released earlier this week. Watch it. Share it. Love it!
Will you be watching or boycotting the Oscars this Sunday? Share your thoughts in a comment below!
If you think Nicki Minaj is to thank (or blame) for the growing popularity of wigs, you'll be interested to learn that humans have been actually been wearing wigs for thousands of years. The ancient Egyptians were known to shave their heads and instead wear wigs to protect their scalps from the blazing sun (Encyclopedia). In the 1600s, men of status donned enormous powdered wigs to signify their wealth and virility (Cracked).
While the wig once symbolized power and prestige, today it's mostly considered a costume item. People don't really take wigs seriously anymore, and the practice of doing so has even become contentious in the natural hair community. Some people argue that wigs shouldn't be considered natural because they mask the wearer's true curls much like a relaxer does. Conversely, others state that if the wearer's hair is unprocessed and free of chemicals underneath, then s/he is natural regardless. No matter which side of the debate you fall on there are indisputable benefits to wearing a wig.
In order to enjoy these benefits, though, you've got to make sure your wig is installed and maintained correctly. Here are some tips:
What's your stance on wigs? Are they a staple in your wardrobe or just a Halloween accessory?
Share your thoughts in a comment below!
In the last couple of weeks two news stories have come to light that have made me absolutely sick to my stomach. The first is about Shakara, the Black girl from Spring Valley High School who was choked and dragged by a white police officer named Ben Fields in front of her classmates. The second concerns a racist comment made towards Samantha Grant, a Black girl who was shopping at Aritzia when she was told she couldn't afford a jacket because of the colour of her skin.
It's disturbing that in the year 2015, Black women around the world are still being treated like second class citizens, subject to verbal or physical trauma from our peers and even figures of authority. What's more alarming is the outpour of skepticism these victims receive when their stories are told. Instead of the public banding together to defend their dignity, everyone from the trolls on Twitter to influential public figures has something to say about how the victim brought it upon herself. They idiotically argue that if Shakara had only been obedient and docile, Ben Fields wouldn't have had to beat her up. That if Sandra Bland hadn't landed herself in prison she never would've died. That if Janay Palmer hadn't provoked Ray Rice he wouldn't have had to knock her unconscious and drag her limp body out of the elevator.... Victim blaming is so painfully ignorant that it seems like a joke, but it happens all the time. Don't believe me? Read this reporting from CNN:
A student slammed to the ground by a South Carolina school resource officer 'bears some responsibility,' Richland County Sheriff Leon Lott said Tuesday. 'If she had not disrupted the school and disrupted that class, we would not be standing here today. So it started with her and it ended with my officer.'"
This sentiment is shared by all kinds of people in the public eye including those who should know better, like Raven Symone, who thought this all could've been avoided if cell phones weren't allowed in schools, and Don Lemon, who was having trouble understanding why an officer rag-dolling a child half his size was not okay. I could go on about the senselessness of Ben Fields' actions and the fact that Shakara is a young girl who posed zero physical threat to him whatsoever, but The Root has already done a fantastic job of exposing this story for the travesty that it is.
While Shakara's story is one of blatant racism and abuse of power, Samantha Grant's experience at Aritzia － and the ensuing events online － is more insidious. After complaining to the Aritzia head office about their racist employee and receiving no response, Samantha took her story public. It aired on the nightly news last week, and all of a sudden the hate started pouring in. A shocking number of people thought she had fabricated the story. They claimed she doesn't look Black and therefore the whole situation couldn't have happened. They thought she was simply looking for attention, seeking her fifteen minutes of fame. Of the readers/viewers who did believe her story, many felt she was making a big deal out of nothing. The comments section of the article is appalling in its inhumanity.
Of course it's hard to take anyone commenting under the name "Zits" or "oj1234" seriously, but there are real people behind those statements of raw, unrefined ignorance.
The people who hold these misguided opinions are blinded by their privilege. How else could they say such things unless they had never been on the receiving end of a micro-aggression or a hate crime? Regardless of whether we're being made to feel unwelcome in a store or literally dragged around a classroom by our hair, in their eyes the blame always lies with us. This mentality needs to stop. Victims of racial and sexist abuse never "deserve it" and telling them what they should've done differently doesn't help. As a society we need to stop criticizing victims for their actions and instead stand in solidarity with our sisters.
Seems like every day, somebody somewhere is saying something rude, insensitive, and untrue about Black hair. This week's offender is Ouidad, a hair product company that prides itself on educating people about their curls so much that it publicly calls itself "the curl experts." Based on their target audience, you'd think they'd realize that a huge portion of their customer base is comprised of women of colour, but I guess they weren't thinking about that when they updated their website this week. On one of their webpages, Ouidad added a feature of four models with varying hair types: normal/healthy, frizzy, brittle or broken, and colour-treated. Seems fine... until you look at the models. (Images courtesy of @oSoBRANDnew and @MadBlackStudent on Twitter)
That's right, you don't need to adjust your screen. The only model with desirably "normal and healthy" hair is white, while the rest are visibly women of colour. Needless to say Twitter has descended on Ouidad, and whoever manages their social media is now dealing with a barrage of Tweets like these.
Hands down the best response came from badass activist Crissle from the infinitely hilarious podcast, The Read. In this week's episode she obliterated Ouidad, rightly stating that their actions were "at the very kindest... culturally insensitive, but what it looks like is stone-cold fucking racism." She and her co-host, the loveably goofy Kid Fury, go on to point out the futility of comparing such vastly different hair types. Doing so, in their opinion, proves that Ouidad clearly doesn't understand what healthy kinky/coily hair is supposed to look like. In fact, the three coloured women's hair actually looks healthier than the blondes!
Regardless of hair health, the main issue is the blatant racism behind using a white woman as the standard of beauty. They are implying that coily kinks are inherently abnormal and unhealthy, and that those of us cursed with such unruly, unfortunate hair should strive to a more European aesthetic. In a pathetic attempt to apologize Ouidad tweeted, "This discussion is important to us; we are completely sensitive to your concerns. Ouidad has been a champion of ALL curls for over 30 yrs and strives to empower curly individuals to love and care for their curly hair. The brand focuses on providing the best service & products for every curl type & dedicated to servicing our customers in a respectful manner." Does this remind you of the ignorance behind #AllLivesMatter? Crissle sure noticed the parallels and slammed Ouidad for not actually addressing their discriminatory mistake of portraying kinky coils as inferior. In their generalized, cookie-cutter, weak-sauce string of robotic tweets, Ouidad completely missed the boat and left everyone even more upset.
What depresses me most about this whole debacle is that Ouidad is supposed to be on our side! It's hard to find products tailored to our needs, whether we're shopping for hair products or skin products or anything else. When companies promise to have our backs by catering directly to our needs, it's validating. It means we matter, that our voices are heard. Ouidad has irreparably disappointed our community, and they don't really seem to care.
It's very likely Ouidad will have taken down the webpage by the time you read this post. They recently tweeted, "It has come to our attention that there are some visuals &language misplaced on the site that require concern &are being updated immediately," demonstrating once again that they don't know the extent to which they've offended us. Such ambiguous messaging indicates our insignificance to them. They probably feel like the situation has been handled. Meanwhile, we'll keep waiting for a sincere apology.
Would you boycott Ouidad products in light of recent events? Share your thoughts in a comment below!
I just came across yet another ill-researched article giving undue praise to an American designer for “inspiring” a “new” look that, in reality, Black women have been rocking for centuries. In a recent post entitled “How-To: Twisted Mini Buns Inspired by Marc Jacobs SS15 Show”, the hairstyling website ManeAddicts.com has deliberately turned a blind eye to history by 1) ignoring the preexistence of Bantu knots, and 2) showcasing them on models who aren’t even Black.
To give you some background, Bantu knots have been popular among people of colour for centuries because they keep our curls neat, tidy, and free of tangles. They're one of the simplest hairstyles to achieve, and so many people put them in right before bed. Our kinky hair is also well-suited to the style because our hair stays in place when wrapped upon itself, eliminating the need for elastics and hair pins!
Even if Mane Addicts didn't want to give credit to the ancient Africans who invented this hairstyle, there's still plenty of proof that Bantu knots have been around for a while. Jada Pinkett Smith was such a badass when she wore them in The Matrix trilogy back in the late '90s / early 2000s. It's been a signature look for Uzo Aduba's character Suzanne "Crazy Eyes" Warren on the hit tv show Orange is the New Black for the past two seasons. And somehow Mane Addicts even failed to notice that Rhianna beat Marc Jacobs to the punch when she sported Bantu knots at last year's iHeartRadio Music Awards.
As I mentioned in a previous post this kind of thing happens everyday, and its effects are more damaging than you might first realize. When an article like that comes out applauding a white celebrity for doing something people of color have been ignored or even ridiculed for in the past, it perpetuates the idea that Black people have contributed nothing of value to society, history, or fashion. It erases our complex identity and our culture, and instead appropriates what we have built for white enjoyment and white accolades. Why didn't Jada, Uzo, or Rihanna get a shout-out? Why did Mane Addicts have to label the style "mini buns" instead of just calling them by their proper name, Bantu knots? It doesn't matter to me if white people want to wear their hair like we do; I just think credit should be given where it's due. At the end of the day, the ignorance of existing Black culture is both harmful and insulting.
Fortunately, the comment section of the article is choking with posts that share my sentiment. Screenshots of it have also spread to Twitter and Instagram, so fingers crossed Mane Addict will soon update their misleading post with the truth.
UPDATE: As of May 28, the article has been torn down from their website.
While tearing up the dance floor at a local pub a few weekends ago, one of my friends presented a dilemma I hadn't considered before. She described a tricky situation in which a coworker of hers (let's call her Afua) who had always rocked natural hair came into the office one day with a relaxer. In the past, my friend had grown so accustomed to seeing her natural hair that after a while she stopped giving Afua compliments. So when Afua showed up to work with long, sleek hair, my friend was in a pickle. The change was so drastic she had to speak up! However, by complimenting Afua, wouldn't she be affirming that her hair looks better straight now?
When she realized that she was caught between a rock and a hard place, my friend simply decided not to say anything to her about her hair that day. My friend understood that her words have a deeper meaning. You can't deny that society persuades girls and women to look a certain way, and this pressure manifests in our everyday interactions with people. Growing up I found it puzzling that some people would swoon over my weaves, but would say absolutely nothing when I got box braids or cornrows. As an adult I now understand that they likely meant no harm, but it's a blatant indication of what our society values in terms of beauty. I think my friend's active decision not to feed into the "straighter is better" mentality was wise, and I applaud her for her thoughtfulness.
As I write this, on the other hand, I can't help but think to myself hair isn't always political! Afua has every right to wear her hair however she pleases. We kinky-haired girls are blessed with endless possibilities when it comes to our hairstyles — relaxers included. Maybe Afua has never felt pressured to straighten her hair. Perhaps she just wanted a change, in which case my friend's struggle to be politically correct would've been for naught. Moreover, there's no doubt that a compliment on her relaxed hair would've made Afua's day. Not saying she's seeking attention or anything, but that's just how we humans are programmed; we like to receive compliments.
So what's the right thing to do? Honestly, I don't see this problem as being binary. I think there's a grey area in which we can support each other without getting bogged down in the politics. Rather than commenting specifically on a person's new relaxer, wig, or weave, I would simply tell them that they look great. That way they receive the ego boost they rightfully deserve for all the time and energy they put into their new look, but without any sociopolitical strings attached. And, of course, as our mothers taught us: if you don't have anything nice to say, don't say anything at all.
Do you get more compliments from people when your hair is straightened? Share in a comment below!
Last week the Huffington Post published an irksome article about the newly crowned winner of Nuestra Belleza Latina, a beauty pageant reality show that, objectively speaking, seems to be mired in racism. The first line of the article reads "Francisca Lachapel was the unlikely contestant to win Nuestra Belleza Latina 2015," and goes on to cite how as an Afro-Latina, Lachapel and women like her have had difficulty finding representation on the show. From getting selected as contestants to being judged fairly against lighter-skinned, straighter-haired models, women with typically African features are not celebrated as they should be. In fact, the Huffington Post quotes one of the show's judges as having asserted, "Black Venezuelan women are not very beautiful." Even the one judge who advocated most for Lachapel implied the curls in her hair and richer complexion were hindrances. The hilarious part is Lachapel is only partially Black. If she had such a hard time winning the title, would someone with 4C kinks and chocolate skin even stand a chance? A reflection on recent events provides the resounding answer...
It would be aggravating enough if these were isolated cases, but the upsetting truth is Black women are used to this prejudice. Regardless of location, many of us grow up being told our hair isn't presentable unless it's straightened, that we shouldn't play in the sun lest our skin go darker. Our noses are too wide, our bums too big, and our lips too fat. And just when it seems there's nothing left, along comes cultural appropriation to tell us that in fact our features are desirable ﹣ just not on us.
I know the subject has been beaten to death, and yet cultural appropriation still happens on the regular. Whether or not it's intentional is up for debate. I prefer to believe the majority of these perpetrators are ignorant rather than malicious, but maybe that's just a foolhardy coping mechanism on my part. Anyway, Katy Perry was put on blast last year for mocking girls who wear their hair in cornrows and who slick down their baby hairs (ie: Black and Latina girls). Despite her blatant and offensive insensitivity, the video in which she shames us for our unique style has been viewed nearly 290 million times. Similarly, Miley Cyrus will go down in history for putting rachet culture on the map and for inventing twerking, behaviour that mainstream society has spent decades telling Black people is "trashy" or "ghetto" when we do it.
Enter Kylie Jenner, the most recent celebrity to waltz obliviously into this mess. Last week she posted a selfie in which her lips were noticeably enlarged. She invited all her fans to join her in her #LipChallenge, which involves stimulating blood flow to the vessels in one's lips so they appear fuller. People have been achieving juicier kissers in all kinds of questionable ways, including sucking on shot glasses and water bottles. I'm sure you've already come across the hoards of bloggers imploring the young people of the Internet not to partake in this potentially dangerous challenge, but far fewer people are talking about the more insidious harm behind Kylie's latest craze: its societal implications.
When I first found out about the lip challenge, I chose to give Kylie the benefit of the doubt. I wanted to believe she was using her fame to promote an alternative standard of beauty. I wanted to believe she was telling the world that big lips are pretty, period. Of course after watching how the lip challenge unfolded on social media, I couldn't help but notice the stark unfairness of it all. I know many of the participants are Black. I also recognize not all Black people have big lips and not all white people have thin lips. However, the undeniable truth is it's Black people who have been ridiculed for hundreds of years for possessing this unchangeable physical trait, and yet overnight Kylie Jenner has somehow made big lips universally irresistible.
Back when blackface was a thing (*shudders*), makeup artists strove to paint the actors lips as ridiculously gigantic as possible. The actors would then behave like total fools, underscoring the belief that Blacks were animalistic. Today, the aftermath of this racism is evident in the low levels of self-confidence and self-love many people of colour feel at some point or another in our lives. So when someone like Kylie or Katy or Miley presents these "epic trends" to the Earth with no history or context or respect, it's infuriating. These are people with great social influence who can ﹣ and have ﹣ changed the world. I am not questioning their character or their right to express themselves; they are independent human beings who can do as they please. My issue is their lack of public acknowledgement of the double standard. They are unabashedly adopting for their own fame and fortune the very elements that make Black people unique ﹣ the elements that have been the nexus of so much of our pain.
Ultimately I understand that beauty and fashion are constantly evolving, and some people might even consider all this proof that society is becoming more open-minded. While I do value that sentiment, the lack of appreciation for existing Black culture as a manifestation of Black history continues to trouble me. I guess what I'm really wondering is: why does the world need to see how pretty big lips are on a white girl to realize how pretty the've always been on a Black girl?
In two minutes and fifty-six seconds, a vlogger on YouTube named Eskimohair has managed to create quite a stir with her tutorial video entitled How to make straight hair into Afro hair tutorial. In it, she demonstrates an admittedly ingenious method of using tin foil and a flat iron to add some major texture to her otherwise silky tresses.
Personally, I see this as a breakthrough. FINALLY someone other than a progressive Black college grad thinks afros are cool! It's so refreshing to see our hair being considered desirable, fashionable, and worth spending the time to attain. Whether she means to or not, Eskimohair is reaffirming in her video that kinky hair isn't something to be corrected; it's a beautiful hairstyle in its own right.
The tragedy is that many people still don't realize this truth ﹣ even and/or especially Black people. While the sale of relaxers has been steadily declining in the past five years, the mentality that straight, sleek hair is the only form of "good hair" prevails. Thank goodness we're not burning our scalps and giving ourselves cancer as readily these days, but human hair wigs and weaves* have crept in their place, occasionally with horrid consequences. So if one white girl can convince even a handful of folks that the afro has gained wider acceptance, I think we're all better off.
Don't get me wrong ﹣ I'll be the first person to admit how frustrating it is to see white models going down catwalks in du rags and cornrows when Black models are nowhere to be seen, but this situation seems different. As far as I can tell she's not making any money off these videos the way fashion designers often benefit from exploiting Black culture. Whereas the fashion industry completely fails to acknowledge the Black contribution by shunning our natural-haired, dark-skinned models, designers, etc and instead chooses to turn our culture into costumes for Katy Perry music videos and spring/summer runway collections, this girl is celebrating a part of who we are through imitation in her own personal life. The difference is that when someone wears something in a music video or on a runway, the purpose is to amuse a crowd. I don't think Eskimohair is trying to entertain anyone. I don't think she's trying to make money off anyone. I think she's just showing us a fun new look for her.
Do I hope for every white woman to follow her lead and rock a massive afro? Of course not, but I also don't want every Black woman to do that either! All I'm sayin' is everyone has the right to wear her hair however she wants, free of judgement, and that the world would be a better place if we all gave credit where it's due.
What do you think of white people wearing their hair in traditionally Black styles? Share your thoughts in a comment below!
MORE TIPS FOR YOUR NATURAL HAIR
From Beauty Pageants to #LipChallenge, Black Women Just Can't Catch a Break
What the "100 Years of Beauty" Video Can Teach Us About the Natural Hair Movement
Why You Should Never Go Natural Alone
*I have nothing against wigs and weaves when worn as protective styles. I've worn weaves several times and love the break they give my hair. I'm also fine with people relaxing their hair. However, sometimes these styling options are used as a tool for assimilation, and that's what I think is problematic.
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.
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.
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.
One of the coolest 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!