Many remember, and possibly tried to forget, the years when natural hair in the African-American community was the norm. Decades have passed since the afro was a key style, but in recent years natural hair is making a major comeback, and this time it’s more than just a hairstyle; it’s a lifestyle.
Saturday, May 18 was the 2nd annual International Natural Hair Meetup Day. The event brought out hundreds of local natural haired women, and a few men, to the Jacobs Center in celebration of their God given hair, as well as full body wellness. Over ten vendors provided various services from clothing and jewelry to free body massages, and even a station for a free “Big Chop” — where a person cuts off the chemically processed portion of their hair — given by veteran stylist Curtis V. of Frederick Michael Salon.
Hosted by Hair Esteem Internatural, a local natural hair and wellness company, and opened in prayer by Reverend Alyce Cooper, the event was a real hit with the natural hair community, and impacted everyone in different ways; even inspiring at least one young lady to forego her perm — also known as “creamy crack” to naturals for the seeming addiction that many African-Americans have to wanting to straighten their hair.
Attendee Bianca Lothridge decided that this was the perfect time to leave her creamy crack days behind; with an abundance of support from more than 30 onlookers, she got a Big Chop. “I know my natural hair is going to be a lot of work, but I think it’s worth it. I want to show my real, natural beauty,” Lothridge said. For many, though, natural hair is not just about natural beauty, it’s about living a healthier lifestyle overall.
Auset Price, hair stylist and owner of Hair Esteem Internatural, promotes total body wellness. In addition to being a hair stylist for almost two decades, she’s also a massage therapist and health consultant. She is also an organizer, along with good friend Makena Hayes-Gargonnu, of a group on www.meetup.com, San Diego Natural Hair and Wellness Meetup — which boasts over 540 members, and is how many of the attendees were informed about the event. The motto is “Love Thy Hair,” and Hayes-Gargonnu explained why natural hair is so important in the African-American community, and why it needs to be in the forefront of people’s minds.
“[We] have been natural for over 16 years and mainly because we became more conscious about the things we needed to do to change ourselves as a people,” said Hayes-Gargonnu, “especially as women because there’s a lot of chemicals [from] perms, and because of that we saw that it was causing a lot of problems in women, from ovarian cancer to fibroids.” She went on to say, “A lot of women are taking medication and getting perms so their hair is falling out and they don’t know why [but] it’s because of the [combined] side-effects, so wellness is very big for us.”
Price chimed in by saying, “Self esteem and hair go hand-in-hand. That’s why [we] say love thy hair; that gives people an awareness of love yourself [because] until we can really love ourselves and embrace who we truly are the way that God created us, we’re lost. It’s not about going natural; it’s about restoring what we already are.”
The event came to a close with a powerful speech entitled “I Love Me Naturally” by Black Studies professor Starla Lewis, whose inspirational message begged the crowd to give a standing ovation. The International Natural Hair Meetup is something many people will be looking forward to for years to come.
For more information about Auset Price and Hair Esteem Internatural, check out www.lovethyhair.net.