2014 Toronto Natural Hair and Beauty Show

Hairstyle For Locs

The weekend of Saturday, Sept. 20 and Sunday, Sept. 21 marked the 2014 Toronto’s annual Natural Hair & Beauty Show at the Japanese Canadian Cultural Centre. Organized by Stephanie Joseph and Marsha Natural Butterfly Patterson, the show’s Facebook event page confirmed 198 people in attendance who were either seeking information, learning, or cat-walking down the runway to celebrate beauty, fashion, and natural hair.

The 2014 Toronto Natural Hair & Beauty Show catered to over 50 vendors ranging from hair and skin care products, jewelry, traditional and herbal nutrition products, and websites making a debut or just stopping by the show. Five hair designers Eugenia Forskin, LaShawn Benning, Hair by Glenna, Shauna Edwards, and Camille Kennedy along with six fashion designers Beni Boo Styles, Unitees, Victorious Me, Ophilia’s Kurves, Size Sexy, SexyPlus Clothing showcased what it meant to be in vogue, beautiful, and natural at the same time.

Toronto’s largest natural hair and beauty show, once known once as the Nappy Hair Fair, featured naturals from all walks of life. The Toronto Natural Hair & Beauty Show began in 2003 with the intention to “[push the Black] community to rethink and challenge old racial stereotypes …[and] to advance the black community, seeking to provide [an] outlet for community support around issues of natural hair, health and wellness,” according to the show’s website. Naturals came from near and far to inform, discuss, and display the natural hair world and what it means on a community and individual level while rocking their locs, faded cuts, braids, or TWAs (the “Teeny Weeny Afros”).

Jennifer and Espy Thomas came all the way from Detroit, Michigan to spread love the natural way. The sisters founded Naturally FLYY, Detroit’s largest natural hair meet-up group. Jennifer has been natural for 11 years and Espy for 15 years. Their friend, Stephanie Alston has been natural all of her life: 33 years.

When asked about her natural hair journey, Jennifer Thomas’ answer was clear: “Don’t obsess over products and hair texture.”

For many people, the natural hair movement was not only about hair; it was also about a different approach to living.

“Naturalness carries over to many other things like clothing and healthy living,” said Stephanie Alston.

There were 25 workshops that dealt with the holistic approach to being natural with topics raging from dealing with alopecia to vegan foods in addition to African dancing and networking within the natural blogosphere.

Although the majority of people at the show celebrated the natural state of their hair and its versatility, there was a naysayer in the crowd.

Nadia, one of the models from the fashion show was natural all of her life and permed her hair. For her, it was a bad decision.

“I personally don’t like my natural hair,” said Nadia, “but it’s what I have to do.”

Evelyn Oteng-Pabi was on a different wavelength when it came to her hair. She was natural for 15 years and the show re-affirmed her decision to get dreads. For people who thought about transitioning to their natural tresses or to go bold with a big chop, Oteng-Pabi had one piece of advice:

“Just like Nike, just do it.”