Sunday, July 24, 2011

A Celebration of All Things Curly!

So, sadness: I broke my string of publishing at least one post a day every day yesterday. I didn't really plan to start out doing that, but once I realized I was doing it I wanted to see how long I could go. 41 days isn't bad. ESPECIALLY because of WHYYYYY I didn't post yesterday. 

[Warning: the rest of this post contains sheer awesomeness. Be prepared.]

Yesterday I went on a NYC adventure! [Fact: it is impossible to meet someone at Penn Station if only one of you has a cell phone. Kids, don't try this at home.] With the help of a payphone and a helpful boyfriend [on her part obviously], my friend C and I finally found each other and made our way through the heat back to her apartment. We hung out for a little while while I shared the sad news of Amy Winehouse's passing, checked out her apartment, and changed into my bathing suit. Then we left to walk to a park to get lunch, and then it was off to the subway to go to the main event of the day:

Curly Pool Party 2011--Curls and Water do mix:
presented by NaturalSelection and NaturallyCurly 

C and I heard about this event about a month ago and were super-excited. We bought our tickets three weeks ago and have been tittering with excitement ever since! We knew we were in the right place when we opened the front doors of the Grace Hotel to see women of all shades rocking their curls waiting in a long line to get through the checking of IDs and registration numbers. [Tell me why Mr. Big Black ID Checker Man called me back to double-check my ID. I have been 21 for SIX MONTHS thank you very much. Makin' me feel all young and shit. Anyway.] Then we were bequeathed awesome gift bags containing products from all four brands that were represented at the event: Ouidad [whose leave-in conditioner I got from Sephora a couple weeks ago and fell in love with, if you all recall], Shea Moisture [whose products I've heard very good reviews about and have been wanting to try], Jane Carter Solutions [similar to Shea Moisture, but they're MAD EXPENSIVE which is the reason I haven't tried them; Jane Carter and her family were there!], and Hair Rules [which I hadn't heard of before, but hey, that just goes to show I'm less of a product junkie than I used to be].
Then I grabbed a strawberry from a table full of hors d'oeuvres as we made our way up from the first level (the bar) to the second level (the pool) on our way to the third level (where the action was). We stashed our stuff on a chair behind a huge sign and almost instantly were approached by a woman who asked if she could take our picture. We said sure, just give us a second to put my flower back in (I had taken out my hair accessories due to the impending swimming) and she said to take our time and come back to her whenever we were ready. Then she was busy when we got out of the bathroom, so we started wandering around from table to table, talking with women and stylists and company representatives. Begin the never-ending string of "GIRL I LOVE YOUR HAIR!!" "What do you put in it/What products do you use/How do you get it like that??" here. Another woman with a fancy camera wanted to take our picture, so we did, and then eventually before getting in the water we found the original lady who had asked to take our picture. She took a few shots of us together, then each of us separately, then sat us down at a table and took shots that focused on just our hair. [She complimented me on my flower. Lots of people did.] Then she revealed that she writes NaturalSelection and WORKS FOR ESSENCE MAGAZINE and had us sign release forms to be entered into consideration for publication in the "Street Style" section of the magazine!!!! A) This confirms it, we're gorgeous, and B) WE BOUT TO BE FAMOUS Y'ALLLLLLL!!!!!! She was so nice too!
So after that ego-boost, we decided we were too hot to handle and had to go cool off in the pool. I took my clothes off upstairs and then walked downstairs to the pool in just my bikini (and got some appreciative stares) but C wore her dress down. The water was fantasticccc (she was cold) but I wish the pool had been bigger. It was hard to do any actual swimming. [That doesn't mean I didn't take FULL advantage of the limited space. C was all I don't wanna get my hair wet so didn't go under, but I certainly did.] I even intentionally had a couple Baywatch-esque rising-from-the-water-and-slicking-my-wet-hair-back moments, one of which was appreciated with a smile and a thumbs up by a rather attractive and very (too, in my opinion) built Black man with dreads. [I have a not-so-secret weakness for men with well-kempt dreadlocks. It just makes me go Mmmm! When I get older I may rock grey dreads like BTD.] We met some cool ladies in the pool and then I eventually got cold (as C got acclimated to the water, haha), and we decided to go downstairs and check out the cocktails at the bar. 
They were SIXTEEN DOLLARS (wtf world?) so you know we didn't get anything. Then we went back upstairs and bumped into a guy wearing this awesome shirt, which he told us was for sale, so I bought one! 
And while I was putting my shirt in my bag, a woman from NaturallyCurly asked C if she could interview us for the website! We would up doing about a five-minute interview on camera [in just our bikini tops and towels, oops] answering such questions about what we thought of the event, what our hair regimens were, whether we were skeptical about the pool aspect, etc. AGAIN, WE GON BE FAMOUS Y'ALLLLLLLLLL!!!! After that we meandered over to the Ouidad and Jane Carter stations to "test" some products on our wet hair and ashy-cuz-we-just-got-out-of-the-water-skin and starting talking to one of the stylists from Ouidad, who leaned in to whisper to us that we should take any product we want when we leave. DIDN'T HAVE TO TELL ME TWICE--C and I FOUGHT over that leave-in, haha. I won this fight, though, and she got some gel because she uses gel sometimes, and two things from their kids' line for her 3-yr-old niece. Then we met some more really cool people and exchanged tips and tricks, and got our pictures taken again! This time by regular event-attenders like ourselves; one liked my new shirt, which I was wearing by then, and the other just thought we were cute doing model shots in front of the Ouidad backdrop.
Then at the very end, right before Mr. Big Black ID Checker Man came around to tell us the event was over and we needed to leave, C got the honor of being bestowed with a giant jar of Jane Carter Solution Curl Defining Cream, and I was am INSANELY JEALOUS because I've been wanting to try that for MONTHS but it's $32 plus shipping. :( She tried to say we're even because I got the Ouidad leave-in, but she got stuff from them too and I already HAD that, I WANTED this. Oh well. I got a little sample jar in my goody bag. And we bugged Jane Carter's husband until he gave us sample jars of Nourish & Shine, a product that can be used as a body butter or a twist/loc butter. 
Then we walked back to her place, discussing what we liked and didn't like about the event. C liked the free products, the pool, and seeing so many black women exuding confidence about their hair and their bodies and overall reveling in their natural beauty. I appreciated all of those things too, but I wished this event had been more interactive and less demonstration-driven. Also, there weren't vendors here like at the BGLH Meetup I went to in Chicago last summer, which was somewhat lame but also meant I didn't spend my money as freely, so that was nice, haha. She really didn't like that multiple people asked her and/or I about our "nationality" or straight up "what we were mixed with"; this led to a discussion about whether or not we are mixed individuals a-la-my-post-from-a-week-and-a-half-ago. She answered the question for both of us most of the time, saying we were just Black, but I'm on the fence about how I feel about that as an answer...I know that I'm somewhere between 18 and 30% non-African, probably more, but none of it is any more recent than my great-grandparents. Those are both significant enough percentages that they probably deserve's complicated. But she raises a good point about how when someone asks about your racial/ethnic background in conjunction with comments/questions about your hair/skin color, they may very well be implying that the part(s) of you that did not descend from Africa [that they assume must exist, which she has a problem with, but I mean, look at me--I would never get mistaken for an African. Ever.] are inherently of more value than those that did. Le sigh. 
All in all though, it was a fantastic event. It just felt really good to openly appreciate the lifestyle choice we have made and to openly be appreciated for it. It's great to feel the vibrancy of the natural hair community, which can be felt on blogs but is brought to LIFE at events like this. There was no sense of what-kind-of-Black-person-do-I-have-to-try-to-be-in-this-room-full-of-Black-people; I could just be me. It was great. Here are some pics, including one of all the free stuff I got!

There were MORE BLACK WOMEN than White women in this ad, and 3/4 of them had natural hair! It was SHOCKING.


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