Tuesday, August 30, 2011

Talking to Naturals Offline, IRL

[Photo Source]

While dipping into Target last night for a loaf of bread, a quart of milk, and a stick of butter, I spotted a lady (not the one shown above) with an impressive head of long, thick, loose natural hair at the Starbucks Cafe. Even if it was a sew-in, oh well, because her mane was just gorgeous! I saw her again as I was leaving and thought, "I should stop her and ask if I can take her picture for the blog..." but it was storming like crazy and I was rushing home for a fantasy football draft, so I didn't do it. And now I'm a bit disappointed with myself for not at least saying hello.

Besides all the extra stuff, why didn't I talk to her? It's not because of shyness -- well not anymore, thank God. I often interact with naturals when I venture out, and in the Triangle area they are easy to spot. We usually acknowledge each other's twists, braid-outs and big afros with a polite smile and a nod, and sometimes it will lead to a good conversation about NC humidity which is our never-ending story (flashback for '80s kids!), hair products, or just some encouragement for the journey/process.

Sometimes folks are in a hurry or on a mission (like me) and don't have time to chat. I also recognize not all naturals are as into hair as others. There's so much life to be lived and more important things to have in common besides "hair." I've met a number of women who are NOT reading blogs, thumb-upping YouTube videos or pining over pics of updos on Fotki and LeCoil. I still meet naturals -- and they're not newbies -- who've never heard about Kinky-Curly or SheaMoisture, even though they are so commonly mentioned online.

Online. The natural community online is so rich and vast! The girl next door writing the hair blog or appearing in an interview is just a click away on my reader. In several instances, I've exchanged thoughts and ideas with them virtually from around the world. It sounds kind of weird and stalker-ish, but I promise it's really not. It's just nice to be able to reach out, connect, and know you're not the only one trying to figure out what kind of brush to buy.

This is certainly not a new thought. In fact, I think Essence did an article on this several years ago. How wonderful would it be if this same sense of community between online naturals extended to the everyday face-to-face experience. I'm blessed to have it at my church home and through some natural ladies at work. This type of personal interaction might be harder to come by organically in a big city environment, based on what I remember while living in NY and TX. We tend to walk fast and don't stare at each other and grin in NYC, lest someone thinks we're going to ask for money. But, this is when it can be helpful to find meet-up groups, events, or places where naturals generally congregate on a smaller and more intimate scale. These types of events, conferences and hair/beauty shows seem to be happening a lot more frequently lately, which is so nice to see.

I'd like to hear about your interactions with naturals wherever you live/work/play. Is most of your experience with naturals online, in real life (IRL), etc.?

Just my random thought about hair today. Have Give a blessed day!

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