I moved to Atlanta almost three years ago convinced that the Deep South’s biggest “black” city would give me a home with a black cultural pulse unlike any other. She hasn’t disappointed me yet; from historically black orchestras to Sweet Auburn (which is this weekend!) to the newly reinstated Freaknik, Atlanta continually showcases the vibrant creativity we possess. When I heard there was a convention for natural hair lovers, I could only smile. In April, I went to my first World Natural Hair Health and Beauty Show, my afro reaching toward the sun, excited to see exactly what went on at a hair show for kinky/curly/nappy haired folk.
As expected, natural-haired women and men were everywhere. I wanted to remix the classic Outkast tune and stroll in singing, “All the naturals came from far and wide/ wearing afros and braids in every single ride.” If you ever imagined a world where natural hair was the norm in our community, this was the place to envision it. A tall, freckled guy with golden brown locks passed me by, then a group of tribal painted women with twists wound fantastically high. I couldn’t wait to get inside.
A large platform stage met me at the entrance, and a blond afro’ed beauty handed me a gift bag with product samples. The convention was set up like any other, with vendor booths and brightly colored signs calling for my attention at every turn. That is, if I could stop staring at all the fros. I got swivel neck looking from around; there was so much to see! If you think there were only hair products/accessories and demonstrations…think again. Anything you could possibly think of–and some you probably wouldn’t–was there. Clothing, jewelry, health supplements, soaps, lotions, sensual enhancements, a live poetry show, singing, and a high-top fade cutting contest all occupied the same area.
The entry fee cost me a teensy $10 bill, which left me all the room I needed to support the entrepreneurial spirit that flowed throughout the hall. During the three hours I spent there, I found: my aunt’s neighbor from Southwest Atlanta; my husband’s old loctician from Tallahassee, FL; my old hairdresser from that same city; a gaggle of fro’d up friends; a sunflower yellow skirt for spring; two hot bangles; a new leave-in conditioner and twisting cream I now swear by; a lovely EarthSista repping Pangea’s Garden with her cute shirt; and plenty of nap-friendly hair salons in Atlanta. My feet hurt from four go-rounds visiting all the shops, but I left the place happy to be nappy, and even more proud of black folk.
If you missed it, you definitely need to gather up some friends and go next year–nappy or no. The show celebrates and uplifts the beauty of natural hair, but healthy hair products are good for everyone who wants healthy hair. (Hopefully, that’s you!) Or, don’t wait until next year: Take a road trip with Pangea’s Garden and meet us at The North Carolina Natural Hair Care Expo in Raleigh! The expo is NC’s very first one for naturals, and it goes down on June 19th.