Throughout history, many catalysts have united women, from voting rights and feminism to the invention of Spanx and Beyoncé's latest girl power chart-topper. Whatever the trigger, when women are driven to corral in the name of a common interest our culture is forever changed. I've learned the natural hair movement to be yet another testament of this oh-so-fab phenomenon...
A few weeks ago, I walked down a quiet block in Manhattan's Chelsea neighborhood, en route to what could have easily been yet another run of the mill trendy social event—hundreds of which occur everyday in this fair city. But, this one was different and I would leave it hours later to find the previously quiet block filled with a jubilant buzz as women much like myself poured out onto the street with more than a little to talk about. I'm sure onlookers were wondering what could cause such a stir.
A couple hundred ladies and I had just experienced an example of what I've since dubbed the "Curl Caucus," a unique demonstration of the groundswell around natural hair.
The event, hosted by the newly formed Curly Girl Collective, brought together "naturals" of all shapes and sizes and hair aficionados in the spirit of natural hair empowerment. For those few brief hours, it seemed as if I'd been inducted into a secret society of sorts—the members of which welcomed me and my curls with open arms and ideas for how to fall more deeply in love with my virgin locks.
As I walked through the smiling crowd, I felt like OZ's Emerald City gates had just opened and the locals were shuffling me from station to station like Dorothy, bringing my curls' fabulousness to life in technicolor. Everywhere I turned sistas were slinging curl kudos at each other and trading product secrets. One bold woman even shared her "big chop" experience with the room full of curly strangers, by cutting off her remaining relaxed tresses on-stage before dozens of spectators. I instantly flashed back to my own triumphant head-shave scenario and filled with warm fuzzies.
This tribe of new curly girlfriends didn't just bring me a lasting curl high, but to them I owe much of my latest natural hair styling wisdom. From the hands of the founders of Miss Jessie's curly hair products, I learned the surprising effectiveness of cutting kinky-curly hair dry and blown straight (yes, straight!) to achieve precise shape and style. I also encountered several sistas who swore by the practice of "protective styling," by which the natural hair is allowed to rest while braided or twisted into looks that don't require rigorous daily maintenance.
This love-fest represented what has become a craze within communities everywhere from my block to the farthest corners of the Internet—women giddy to connect and build with other courageous sistas championing their natural hair. From product swap parties where friends share and try out the myriad of available curly concoction options together, to random conversations on buses and street corners ice-broken by the simple sight of another natural-loving lady—this movement is making quite a welcome ruckus.
Driven to infuse each encounter with joy-inducing laughter, Dre Brown (before and after her run-in with the clippers, left) seeks to offer those she reaches both something for the eye and for the soul. Based out of New York City, Dre splits her time between makeup artistry, hair styling, strategic marketing, writing and entrepreneurship. Follow her exploits on her blog: a Dre in The Life