– by Ieshia McDonald
Editor’s Note: With the natural hair movement carving out a space in the US as something that’s more than just a trend, we were curious about how it was doing in other parts of the globe. As such, we’re dedicating this week to our Natural Hair Everywhere series and are speaking with women in five different countries about the rise and growth of kinky hair in each of their locales.
Natural hair in Toronto is trendy, but not the norm; eccentric, but not controversial. Local, Antonnette Smith has tried her best to embrace her natural hair, as well as encouraging other women to do the same.
“It’s hard to determine the size of the natural community in Toronto. It’s bigger than it was five years ago and it seems to be growing,” says Antonnette. “People always ask me about my hair. I get stopped on the street all the time with questions about my styling techniques, and the products I use. My best friend is a hair stylist, and we decided to throw a party to educate women about healthy and safe styling options.”
It’s evident that Antonnette is confident about her tresses and is enjoying her natural hair journey. However, her journey had a very rocky beginning. “After years of salon hopping, I started to relax my own hair,” says Antonnette. “Initially, I had great results. My hair looked healthy, I was saving money and didn’t have to deal with hair stylist drama. However, one day something went terribly wrong. The chemicals didn’t sting. I didn’t realize there was a problem until I rinsed my hair. Big clumps of hair floated in my bathtub. I thought I was going to be bald.”
Fortunately, her best friend remedied the situation with a trim and styling, so Antonnette’s hair did not completely fall out. But because of this one bad perm, she decided to transition to wearing her hair natural. At the beginning of her journey in 2009, Antonnette noticed how scarce afros were in Toronto, but five years later things have really turned around. “Over the past five years I’ve noticed a big change,” says Antonnette. Everywhere I go I see women proudly wearing their natural texture. There’s always a natural hair show or party in some corner of the city. It’s gotten to the point where those with chemically straightened hair seem to be in the minority.”
Check out the all the profiles in our Natural Hair Everywhere Series.