A growing number of African-American and bi-racial women are foregoing hours of chemical processing and straightening, crimping and primping; instead, they are opting for untreated hair.
Recently more than 300 women and a few men gathered at the Pine Bluff Convention Center to get a look at the latest hair trends at the second annual Delta All Natural Hair Show.
Taylor Williams of Dermott, who describes herself as bi-racial, said she’s always kept her hair in its pure state.
“I don’t want relaxed (referring to a process used to straighten hair) hair, I prefer curls,” she said.
Event and Rural Community Alliance lead organizer, Dorothy Sherrill Singleton, who has been natural since 1993, said she is not surprised at Williams’ decision to keep it real. “It’s a healthier approach to hair care,” she says.
Singleton said the reason for the event was to get the word out about the growing trend.
“As the trend continues to grow in places like Atlanta, L.A. and New York City, we wanted to provide women with good information,” she said.
She was pleasantly surprised by the large turnout for the event that was sponsored by the Rural Community Alliance. The organization promotes and fosters economic development in Southeast Arkansas.
“It’s encouraging and we’ve decided to do it again next year,” Singleton said.
The show featured demonstrations by three area professional stylists, followed by question-and-answer sessions.
Katrina Robinson of Arkansas City specializes in natural, and said she embraces it because it’s done without chemical processing. She showed the audience a few tricks when it came to working with different hair types and lengths.
Erin McLamore of Pine Bluff is a stylist at the Grand Elegance Salon at 518 W. 23rd Ave., and says, “Natural hair is healthier; chemicals are harsh on the hair. And natural hair is so versatile.”
She did a child demonstration, as well as one for adult women who want to transition to a natural hairdo.
The event also featured a session by multicultural stylist, Lakeesha Reynolds, who has nine years in the business. She says, “Natural hair has so many styling options and it’s overall healthier.”
Edna Lindsey, owner of Trichology in Pine Bluff, talked about alopecia, hair loss and baldness, and featured a performance by poetic rapper, Terrel “Throad” Young.
Carolyn Jackson, a Pine Bluff hair stylist and masseuse, said she attended the show so she could keep up with the latest in hair care and trends.
“In the ’50s and ’60s, it was popular to be nappy-headed, but that changed in the ’70s,” she remembers.
Of course, Afros for both men and women dominated the fashion scene at that time. It was also a popular hairstyle with white Americans, especially with the disco crowd.
Singleton said the Afro was then associated with militant black movements and funk music.
Today, it’s different and is just a movement to get away from unhealthy and over-processed hair.
In addition to the demonstrations, a number of vendors were offering non-chemical products and hair and fashion accessories.
The event featured the fashions of two young Arkansas designers Saturday afternoon.
Ten-year-old designer and model Serenity Clark of Bryant showed off her fun and funky hair bows, bow bracelets, headbands, bow ties for men, and other accessories.
Singleton said, “In 2012 [Serenity] Clark entered the Little Rock Fashion Week’s Youth Sketch Design Competition and won in her category.”
She has also modeled in the state’s top fashion shows and has been cast to model in Dallas Designer’s Choice Fashion Preview this month.
Nia Gray, also 10 and from Dermott, said she loved the fashion design portion of the day, and while she liked Serenity’s bangles and bracelets, she could see herself wearing the designs of Aaliyah Fisher.
Aaliyah of Dumas, 15, followed Nia, and her 1980s-inspired clothes included pieces for youngsters and teenagers. She launched her first line when she was 13 in collaboration with Brandon Campbell, founder of Little Rock Fashion Week. Aaliyah was recently selected to do Designer’s Choice Fashion Show in Texas and has been featured in Savvy Kids and The Heat magazine.
Williams said, “I was impressed with Aaliyah’s designs and could see myself wearing some of her clothes.”
Brenda Moss of Pine Bluff said, “It was awesome, and I learned so much such as how to twist out my hair. I was so impressed by the talented designers. I’m glad I came today.”