Natural Hair: Celebrating Us Is A Must

Yesterday I went to a natural hair meetup. I love living in Grand Rapids because there’s some kind of natural event going on almost every weekend. Circumstances prevented me from attending one in the last few months so it felt good to get out. I try to stay positive, especially publicly, but I have a high amount of stress in my life. I spend a lot of time around people who don’t look like me. They always honor me with love, respect and trust; however, it feels good to be around people who look like you and honor you as well. This is especially true during a time when black Twitter is roasting successful black women like Lisa Leslie and Gabby Douglas. That mess is discouraging.

Natural hair meetups are uplifting and empowering. This one in particular was a photo shoot at the historical Wealthy Theater with the theme “I Rock My Own Hair”. The event was one of many leading up to Beauty of Tziyon (salon and boutique) and Natural Hair GR’s (a support group for natural hair enthusiasts) up-coming hair show and celebration called Hair Fest 2016. It’s taking place during the Art Prize kick off which is fitting, because we are art. We deserved to celebrate and affirm ourselves and each other.

Taking pictures is a great way to do that. Nothing says you are wonderful than to get dressed up and preserve the memory of you looking regal. That’s exactly what happened at this photo shoot. This was my first time at the Wealthy Theater  (I know. After living in GR for 13 years I need my butt kicked.). It’s a small but absolutely prestine theater. The first thing I thought when I walked through the doors was, “I bet Al Capone came here when he vacationed in Grand Rapids.” The architecture was phenomenal. Images of women dressed in fur coats anf veiled hats snuggled up with dates in snazzy suits with overcoats popped in my mind. I should have worn a dress but it was a rainy morning, and I chose a sporty, comfortable outfit I could wear to my son’s football game afterwards. My floral headband gave me a little bit of class though.

Who needs a snap chat filter?

My Curl Friends were absolutely delightful in various types of outfits. We sat in the audience watching each other take turns posing on stage. It was absolutely intimidating! It felt like an audition.  The stage created an all black background but there were several bright lights shining. There was even a makeup artist on set beating faces. I passed on that opportunity. I did my own makeup before I came but didn’t know how the lights would affect my foundationless  (I made that word up) complexion. Only a few of us opted out and I noticed I wasn’t the only one self-conscious about even doing that. One beauty just didn’t like to wear makeup. I’m an ameture so I’m still practicing my skills. Some of the children were excited to sit in the tall chair and get dolled up for the first time. That was fun to experience since I don’t have any girls of my own. I think it’s okay for girls to wear a little makeup special occasions like photoshoots, recitals and stuff. You could tell that this was a first experience for the little ones.

These kids commanded the camera.

I enjoyed seeing different people respond in front of the camera. Their personality really comes out. Some people really own it. They have no problem showing off their swag. Others were more shy. One Sistah even said, “I’m an introvert.” She slayed though. People in the audience gave the models nods of approval and praise so everyone got through it. Some people took group pictures and there were a few family portraits as well. The photographers used a latter to get certain angles. They had a monitor to review each shoot. They really did a great job giving directions. There was another photographer taking behind the sins shots. There were also plenty of cell phone photographers like me. I even took my selfie stick.

The Wealthy Theater is amazing.

This was also great opportunity to network. Out in the lobby I sipped coffee and had discussions with Curl Friends about hair styles, products, self-love and the need to embrace each other to improve the community. I even connected with a fellow blogger too. There were tons of people from Grand Rapids but I also met a Curl Friend from Rochester, NY whose only lived here for a year. She just wanted to meet people with similar interests.

Johanna Jelks of Natural Hair GR & I in the lobby.

The photoshoot was amazing. Here are some behind the scenes photos that I took. I can’t wait to what’s in store for Hair Fest 2016.

Don’t you just love her smile?
A fellow blogger, she likes to strike a pose.
You have to catch the beauty from all angles.
A mother proudly watches her child model.
Marley Ariyahu of Tziyon of Beauty is always camera-ready.
A nubian queen

Another shoot of Marley
I was surrounded by natural beauty.
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Posted by DaLoveLee1

I recently realized I have a passion for natural hair during on my journey toward self-acceptance and love. So much of who I am has always revolves around my hair. It reflects how I feel about myself internally. When I am depressed or stressed, I don't do my hair. If I do look like a million bucks, I feel like a million bucks, even if I'm flat broke. I started documenting my transition on Facebook and it spread to Instagram. I have been amazed at how I have come to love my kinks and curls. I didn't even know how to care for it when a started transitioning. It has been so liberating. I assumed the name LoveLEE around the same time as my transition because I needed to remind myself that I'm worthy of love. The image of women like me is skewed by the media and negative stereotypes. I refuse to confine since of love and beauty to society's standards. I'm starting this blog so other women will know that they don't have to be boxed in either. You are beautiful and flawless just the way you are.

Thanks for joining me.
~Leonica

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