When Nina (of Estimativa) invited us out to an evening ‘tea party’, I had no preconceived notions, as much of her description of the event and what we were to expect was probably lost in translation. I heard, ‘dress pretty, wear comfortable shoes, you’ll meet some of my friends’. To sum up what became an epic night, I’ll leave you with these three points:
* Simplicity, 1, Doing the Most, 0– Our curly Brazilian sisters have very limited access to products. Not only are they scarce on the ground, the cost and time to order on-line is quite prohibitive. Along with exorbitant shipping costs, they have to pay taxes to the tune of 30 to 70 percent (say it with me now…DAYUM!). We shared a lot of commonalities, but product junkyism, yeah, not one of them. Every beautiful head of hair you see below, every style, was achieved with water, fingers and little coconut oil and/or shea butter. How’s that for keeping it simple? Give’s a new meaning to ‘juices and berries.’ Perhaps all the twisting, braiding, banding, rolling and knotting is not always necessary. These girls are achieving disrespectfully huge, non TSA friendly fros (who gon’ check me boo!) with once a week washings and minimal manipulation. Their hair made my hair want a hat!
* We’re Not So Different You and I– So there was an obvious language barrier and everyone’s excitement to share and learn was a bit overwhelming for Nina, the only one in the bunch who spoke both Portuguese and English fluently. Much of everything from either side had to be filtered through her. At one point she grabbed the bridge of her nose in frustration, and speaking above the ladies asking her to relay questions to me, she smiled and said, ‘Woo! We get excited when hair is the subject, but this is ridiculous!’ Somehow we talked about everything from relationships, to music, to the way Black women are portrayed in the media and were surprised that, and not to be cliche, it’s the same old song. Solidarity.
* Meetup Deja vu- It was cool how the tea party turned in to what for me was a very familiar and comfortable situation.. a natural hair gathering… complete with product talk, styling technique and folks sharing and chatting it up… hair touching and what not. I loved the diversity of styles and textures and hearing about how they too go through the same stages of insecurity and worries when transitioning– ‘professionalism’ and ‘attractiveness’, etc. Y’all know.
The ladies wanted to stress that the room was not an accurate representation of the hair situation in Rio. Natural hair is the exception and although, like in America, it’s on the rise, the beauty standard remains bone straight or maybe even looser curls and lighter skin. They’re spearheading the campaign, the revolution in Brazil, which is majority Black (like the second largest Black population in the world), to not only accept but embrace their bodies, their hair, their skin… their natural beauty. I found it very interesting and inspiring how much these women do for their community with such limited resources. The programs they organize are bountiful, offering discussions and informing on self-esteem, health, natural hair, violence, and the history of Black women that have contributed to the construction of their society. They work with both children and adults.
Check out the view-
Some of the executive staff. Among them is an economist, hair stylists, two TV producers, a videographer and educators. All affluent, all beautiful, all curly!
To contribute to the cause and support Estimativa’s community efforts, we provided translated CurlyNikki articles and Mahisha of CURLS donated hundreds of amazing products (including their popular Curlicious Cleansing Cream, Coconut Sublime Conditioner, Quenched Curls Moisturizer and Curl Gel-les’c) for them to distribute to their partners along with Portuguese instructions for application. Estimativa is also gladly accepting donations via paypal. The funds will go to support their community programs and aid in purchasing personal care products, food and the like, for the women they work with in the community. They’d appreciate any support from you! Send charitable donations to – firstname.lastname@example.org.
Later that night, they kept the hospitality train rolling and took us to what can only be likened to a Beale or Bourbon street in downtown Rio. The party was all the way live… kicked it with bof’ feet. I very quickly learned why Nina suggested comfortable shoes, a warning I didn’t heed. These girls dance ALL night. They stay dancing and I think I kept up! Fun was had by all.
Today… sunglasses and advil. #MadReal