Last Saturday, black women from different walks of life gathered in Paris, at this amazing venue in an organic park called “Parc Floral” to celebrate their beauty. It was my third time attending the Natural Hair Academy and this year’s edition was the biggest to this date! For those who have never heard about the Natural Hair Academy before, it’s an event that takes place each year in Paris with focus on natural hair. It’s also the biggest event in Europe of its kind and each year, experts within this field are invited from France and America to advice the visitors how to best take care of their hair. The program for this year include 13 workshops and conferences regarding haircare, skincare, makeup and fitness/health with experts like Felicia Leatherwood (US), Clarisse Libene (FR), “JFashiongirl87” (US) and “MoKnowsHair” (US). During the day, the visitors were able to do some serious hair product shopping (a DREAM for a Scandinavian) in different stands/pop-up shops as well as getting their hands on beautiful fashion! In total, the venue hosted 50 different stands perfectly selected to meet the needs for black women and their beauty routines. And yes, there were food trucks with delicious soul food!
What I loved about this year’s event was that each visitor could design her own program by choosing what kind of seminar/conference one wanted to attend. Like for me, being my third time there, I had already attended to some of the workshops the previous years so I was glad that I could choose something new. Something I always look forward to is the fashion show produced by the French hairstylist “DydyNaturalHairLover” and this year’s theme was “Natural Flower”. This year’s looks were amazing and the girls looked like true QUEENS!
One of the absolute highlights at the NHA 2016 was the last conference of the day, the “Empowerment Panel” where they had invited Christiane Taubira (FR), Michaela Angela Davis (US), Julee Wilson (US), Kelly Massol (FR), Magatte Wade (FR) and Theyonah Parris (US). These women were invited to inspire young “Afro-French” women based on testimonials from these incredible women who have/are working within fashion, media, social engagement, politics and entrepreneurship. I must say that it was hard holding back my tears listening to these women share their experiences and wisdom. Their encouragement to celebrate our beauty unapologetically brought me back to those days when I was a little young black girl born and raised in Sweden who did not belong to the “norm” and had a hard time finding her “place”. I remember pulling back all this hair in a tight bun so it would not be “all over the place”. The lack of diversity in the society made me feel left out and confused growing up. But here I was, in a room full of women that looks just like ME talking about hair and sisterhood with a bunch of strangers but I have never been this comfortable. This is so much more than just hair; it’s about love and empowerment. Living in Paris, I’m much closer to “my norm” than when I used to live in Sweden and as I was grooving to some funky beats at the after party organized by NHA, I thought: if I only knew more about this back then, if we only had events like this back home…”
Links for hair inspiration: