When I first began my natural hair journey, it was in 2012. All throughout my teen years and in my 20s, I had always relaxed my hair. I finally stopped using a relaxer for my hair around the year 2006, and instead, I would straighten my hair with a flat iron. I never wore my hair naturally curly in public because I felt like it was too puffy or not very attractive.
A relaxer is a type of lotion or cream generally used by people with tight curls or very curly hair which makes hair easier to straighten by chemically “relaxing” the natural curls. –“Relaxer”, Wikipedia
You see, when I was younger, I remember some kids used to make me feel like my natural curls were frizzy, ugly, and wild. When I was in elementary school, for instance, kids would make fun of my “puffy hair”. This soon led to my feelings of hatred for my natural hair. I didn’t want anyone to see my curly hair, even when I became an adult.
Becoming a “Naturalista” Changed My Life
My husband Travis didn’t even know my hair was naturally curly until after we were married. I remember one time I had washed my hair and I was getting ready to blow dry it so I could wear it straight. Travis walked into our bedroom and saw my curly hair. He asked me what did I do to make my hair so curly. I explained to him I didn’t do anything because it was my natural hair. He was so shocked because he thought my hair was naturally straight.
Travis and I had known each other for at least two years before we got married. At this point of revelation of my natural hair, we had been married for only a few weeks. The entire time I knew my husband, I never showed him my naturally curly hair because I thought my hair was not pretty. Sad, I know.
To my amazement, Travis told me he loved my curly hair and thought I looked beautiful. He even wanted to know why I never wore my hair curly. I remember feeling really shocked that my husband actually liked my natural curls and he thought I should wear my hair natural more often. That was a big game changer for me because he encouraged me to embrace my natural beauty and hair.
Ever since then I started easing back on putting heat on my hair and exploring different natural hairstyles. Within a year, I was wearing my hair curly in public. By the third year, I stopped straightening my hair altogether and I haven’t looked back since.
“But regardless of your hair type, your hair is yours to love. It should reflect self-awareness and self-confidence, not another woman’s story.” (Campbell, Deena. “10 Ways to Love Your Hair – Not Your Hair Crush”. Essence, April 24, 2017.)
Finding a Natural Hair Community
Once I began my natural hair journey, I reached out to friends who also started their natural hair journey. They recommended various websites and YouTube Channels for me to read and watch. Blogger and vlogger Naptural85 was my ultimate favorite natural hair advocate. I also enjoyed watching vlogger Mahogany Curls’ YouTube videos. Bloggers and vloggers like Naptural85 and Mahogany Curls helped me learn more about how to care for my hair and feel more confident with wearing my hair naturally.
One thing I was lacking, though, was attending a natural hair event in-person. In the city I was living in, I had never heard of a natural hair event before. I know if I would have known about an expo or meetup, I would have definitely attended one a long time ago. It would have helped me with my natural hair journey.
Naturally Flyy Detroit Presents We Rock Dope Hair: A Natural Hair Experience
It wasn’t until I moved to Metro Detroit that I found out people actually organize events about natural hair. One event in particular that I stumbled upon was the We Rock Dope Hair: A Natural Hair Experience presented by Naturally Flyy Detroit. Naturally Flyy Detroit brings together a community of natural hair enthusiasts and establishes a cultural awareness of the beauty of natural hair and African American culture.
Naturally Flyy Detroit hosts their annual natural hair meetup in Detroit, Michigan. The organization was co-founded by sisters EttaFlyy Espy and Jennifer Thomas. Naturally Flyy Detroit has been hosting the natural hair event since 2010. It is the largest hair meetup in Detroit.
Highlights of We Rock Dope Hair: A Natural Experience
On Saturday, June 3rd, my family and I attended the We Rock Dope Hair event. Jennifer Thomas was very kind to extend an invitation to Good Life Detroit.
We Rock Dope Hair featured many different vendors who sold various products such as cosmetics, natural hair products, clothing, and art. There were pop-up hair shops such as Detroit Naturals owned by cosmetologist Kamille Kardashian and Original Moxie founded by Rachel E. Blistein. Guests enjoyed getting their hair styled on-site at the event.
Headwrapping Featured at We Rock Dope Hair
Another feature I loved about We Rock Dope Hair is it also encompassed the headwrap community. Many men and women wear headwraps for various reasons, and the art of headwrapping is also a part of African American culture. For a year now, I have been wearing a headcovering, or headwrap, for religious reasons. For me personally, it was very encouraging to see headwrapping included with We Rock Dope Hair.
Roseline Onwenu, owner of Sterose International Boutique, and Leah Vernon, Detroit-based Beauty and The Muse Blogger, both led individual headwrap and turban workshops for guests.
Zarinah El-Amin Naeem, the owner of Beautifully Wrapped and founder of the Beautifully Wrapped Headwrap Expo, was also present at the We Rock Dope Hair event.
Read my blog post about the 2016 “Highlights from the Beautifully Wrapped Headwrap Expo”. I’m really looking forward to attending the 2017 headwrap expo, which will be on October 29, 2017.
Zarinah featured a pop-up headwrap shop at We Rock Dope Hair. She also sold beautiful headwraps at the event.
We Rock Dope Hair 2017 Schedule
Also at the event were six different discussion panels covering an array of topics such as a headwrap/turban workshop, natural hair care Q&A, a makeup demo workshop.
Here are the panel discussions which were featured at the We Rock Dope Hair event:
- 2:30 p.m. Natural Hair Q & A featuring: Nefertiti Harris, Tesia Tillman, Dr. Bobbi Edwards (Dermatology), Shelia Everette-Hale, Rachel Blistein, and Monnie Johnson
- 3:00 p.m. Headwrap/Turban Workshop with Beauty and The Muse Blogger Leah Vernon – hosted by Courtney Johnson
- 4:00 p.m. Makeup Demo Workshop with Shalonda A. Mua – hosted by Courtney Johnson
- 4:30 p.m. “Let’s Talk Dope Products for Your Hair Type” with Vlogger and Detroit’s own Nae2curly
- 5:00 p.m. Traditional African Headwrapping Session with Rose of Sterose International Boutique – hosted by Courtney Johnson
- 5:30 p.m. The Mystery of Womanhood – hosted by EttaFlyy Espy and Jo Butterfly Lynne Lee, featuring Nefertiti Harris, Mayowa Lisa Reynolds, Shamayim Sapphira Shu, and Alisha Fullmoon Brown
More Photographs from We Rock Dope Hair: A Natural Experience
Embrace Your Natural Hair
I love everything about the natural hair movement because African American men and women should embrace their natural beauty. We have to stop letting society define who we are or how we should wear our hair. It is time to redefine the social stigmas of natural hair and shift the conversation to focus more on embracing one’s culture and natural beauty.
Naturally Flyy Detroit greatly contributes to the natural beauty and natural hair movement. By holding annual meetups like We Rock Dope Hair: A Natural Experience, it allows people to not only learn more about natural hair but also to embrace their beauty and culture.
I Am Not My Hair
Whenever I think of natural hair, it always reminds me of India.Arie’s powerful song “I Am Not My Hair”. In the song, India sings about the negativity and social stigmas men and women face because of their natural hair. She encourages people to not be defined by the negative stereotypes and to not let it keep them from wearing their hair naturally or however they choose to wear their hair because “I am not my hair. I am not this skin. I am not your expectations, no. I am not my hair. I am not my skin. I am the soul that lives within.”
I’ll close with an excerpt of song lyrics from India.Arie’s song “I Am Not My Hair”.
Special thanks to Naturally Flyy Detroit for inviting Good Life Detroit to the We Rock Dope Hair: A Natural Hair Experience!