Healthy Hair Solutions Health and Wellness Expo next Saturday at Cardinal Ritter – St. Louis American
Black women’s love-hate relationship with their hair due to Eurocentric beauty standards has birthed a multi-billion-dollar industry. For the past century, it has been rooted in conforming kinks, coils and curls into silky strands by any means necessary. In recent years, there has been a counter movement to aid black women in the process of managing and embracing their natural hair.
After more than 20 years in the cosmetology industry Tendai Morris, founder of the Healthy Hair Solutions line of hair care products, shifted her focus to helping women of color love the hair that they were born with.
“People think it’s a small thing, but it impacts what’s going on with you inside when you have a whole society essentially telling you that the way your hair grows out of your head is unacceptable,” Morris said. “It spills over into every other of your life – from your job, to your relationships, to your children and family. If you are indoctrinated to believe that part of you is not good enough, it affects all of you.”
She started in 2010 with texture talks. They began as small group conversations, but ultimately grew into convention halls with sold-out audiences in the hundreds. Out of the talks came the next chapter of her journey by way of Healthy Hair Solutions. She continues to incorporate her education component into her life’s work as a natural hair expert – and feels teaching is her lane within the natural hair revolution.
“I’ve had so many conversations with women over the years who said, ‘Oh, I would never go natural.’” Morris said. “Then I run into those same women down the line and have them say, ‘I did it, and I love it.’ Every time I hear a woman say they have fallen in love with the hair their DNA produced, it just drives me even more.”
Next Saturday she will present the Healthy Hair Solutions Health and Wellness Expo at Cardinal Ritter. The expo is free and open to the public.
“Part of the reason I have these events is because I want people to ask me questions,” Morris said. “I’m a professional. I’m a licensed cosmetologist and barber. I’m not a blogger. I’m not just a person on YouTube giving information based on my experiences – and I’m making myself available to answer questions.”
In addition to her usual texture talks, the expo will include vendors and a Little Miss Healthy Hair Solutions Pageant for girls age 4-14.
“With this particular expo, we are focusing on children and getting them to love their own hair at an early age and understand that they are beautiful as they are,” Morris said. “It lays the foundation for them to grow into women who love their hair – and love themselves.”
Morris enlisted the help of St. Louis native and former Miss Black America Kyria Vershelle, who now works as a recruiter for the Miss America Pageant, to help the contestants prepare for the stage and build their confidence.
“I just feel like that teaching them to love themselves and their hair now will be one less hurdle that they are going to have to jump when they grow up,” Morris said. “Think about it, with us having to learn to embrace our natural hair – that is a hurdle. You end up thinking things like ‘okay I can’t go into corporate America with my hair curly because I’m going to be judged or stereotyped.” A big part of it is society. I shouldn’t have to pause and say ‘I can’t do my job because my hair is not straightened.’”
There will also be face painting, a bouncy house and other events to keep the children occupied as the grownups talk hair. She is looking forward to encouraging hair love on people of all ages Saturday afternoon and is aching for an on the spot transformation.
“I want to find that woman in the audience who feels like she’s had a natural hair nightmare,” Morris said. “I want her to walk up to me and say ‘please help me do my hair.’ And I want to give her the tools that she needs to continue to move forward and finally get in control of her natural hair journey.”
The Healthy Hair Solutions Health and Wellness Expo will take place from 10 a.m. – 7 p.m. on Saturday, June 10 at Cardinal Ritter College Prep, 701 Spring Ave. The event is free and open to the public. For more information, e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org.