“It’s kind of like a girl’s night out, but I want people to come together and have a conversation about what’s going on in this natural movement,” said Diversity Gallery owner Leslie Christian Wilson.
Next Friday, December 20 she will host Natural Night Out at the Regional Arts Commission. There will be fashion, fabulousness and fun, but Wilson is also using the meet-up to get people talking.
“In my opinion, right now it’s a trendy thing,” Wilson said about the natural hair movement. “But there doesn’t seem to be real conversations going on about why, where do we go from here and what does this mean?”
Wilson wants to go beyond gathering for the sake of free samples of the latest in the seemingly never-ending launch of new product lines catered to natural hair.
“People are confused. I listen to what they say about the pros and cons of going natural, and I’m like, ‘Really, you’re focused on what a man would think of your hair. It’s not about them, it’s about you,’” she said.
“That’s what needs to be deposited in some of these ladies’ spirits. It is your crown and glory, but doesn’t have to mean anything other than what it means to you.”
She wants to encourage, empower and educate on natural hair, natural beauty and natural body, mind and spirit. All of those things will be on the agenda – and even if the conversation gets heavy, the atmosphere will be light and festive.
Vendors will be on hand for shopping, and naturalistas will be in the building to fellowship – with open arms to any women riding the fence about making the big chop or slowly transitioning to the natural side of things.
Wilson is inviting women who aren’t natural to the party as well.
“Whatever your personal choice is, I don’t pass judgment – I just know the benefit it has for me,” Wilson said.
“You don’t have to be a slave to chemicals. If you want your hair to grow, it can grow down your back – mine is to my waist. You can have it long, short, straight or curly – whatever you desire, you can have without resorting to damaging chemicals.”
While natural hair is the hottest of topics within the black beauty industry, Wilson was natural before it even had a name. Twenty years ago, she made the decision to stop applying chemicals to her hair.
“For me, I wanted a lifestyle of simplicity,” Wilson said. “I was tired of going to the salon and getting my scalp burned out.”
She is also a licensed stylist and creates natural hairstyles for clients at her boutique.
“People are afraid of going natural,” Wilson said, “but I’m like, ‘Why are you afraid of yourself? You’re not afraid to slap some chemicals in your head.’”
At Natural Night Out, Wilson hopes newcomers will see a room full of women in love with their natural state and be encouraged.
“You have to stop looking outside for approval for what you’re doing for yourself,” she said. “I’m coming from a place of education and empowerment – I want to help change the mindset and empower us.”
Natural Night Out will take place 6 p.m. Friday, December 20 at the Regional Arts Commission, 6128 Delmar. For more information, call 314-721-3361. To RSVP, e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org.