Black women encouraged to grow an afro
Published Monday, February 4, 2013 2:41PM EST
Last Updated Monday, February 11, 2013 9:44AM EST
The Fro foundation wants black women to rediscover their roots by promoting a simple idea: just say 'no' to hair straighteners.
Many black women spend substantial amounts of time and money to straighten their hair, and Berekia Yergeau used to be one of those women.
For her high school graduation, she used chemicals to straighten it, trying to fit it with a certain model of beauty.
"To be pretty for me at this time was to be skinny and have straight hair," said Yergeau.
The problem arose when the chemicals weakened her hair, and she soon lost half the hair on her head.
The mental anguish, and the knowledge that countless black women have endured the same mishap, led Yergeau to create the Fro Festival and encourage a new idea of natural, black, beauty.
"It's bigger than just hair, it's about identity, it's about history," said Yergeau, who dug into the roots of hiding curly hair.
"People began to straighten their hair to look more like the slave master."
Combined with current cultural icons like Nikki Minaj, Rihanna, and Beyoncé who all have straightened hair, Yergeau felt that more people need to see role models with natural hair.
She's enlisted the help of Abisara Machold of the Inhairitance Salon to run the Fro Festival.
"There's different reasons to become natural, a lot of them are medical and a lot of them are a feeling of liberation and feeling of coming to acceptance of your true natural self," said Machold.
The salon owner will be giving workshops on how to 'go natural', while speakers like former Governor-General Michaelle Jean and civil rights activist Angela Davis will use hair as a starting point for discussions within the black community.
The Fro Festival hosts several events during February. Details are available on their website.