Last weekend I missed having my mother by my side when I went to the first “International I Love Braids Day” event that was held in Fulton Park on July 29th in Bedford-Stuyvesant, NY. The holiday was founded by local resident, Debra Hare-Bey. Debra boasts an extraordinary list of accomplishments. Not only is she the Founder of International I Love Braids Day, she is also CEO Brand Director of OMhh Inc & Debra Hare-Bey Private Parlour, Beauty Editor of World Bride Magazine, a Proctor for the Natural Hair State Exam and (if that weren’t impressive enough) she writes a Blog.
“International I Love Braids Day is a joyous occasion to celebrate, and honor, the history & design of braids as a cultural and artistic expression of beauty.”
Written By: Tiffany Lee, Shades of Commerce, Founder/Owner
I do not remember a time when I did not regularly wear my hair in braids. Sure, I have tried an occasional relaxer, or a wig, but then I loyally return to my braids. As a child my mother kept my hair in either braided ponytails or cornrows usually adorned with the Goody’s brand ponytail holders and the matching plastic barrettes. My favorite childhood hairstyle was cornrows strung with beads that were held in place by tin foil tips. During school recess I would run until I was exhausted just so I could hear the clackity-clack of the beads bouncing and swaying back and forth. As I got older my hairstyles matured. I started to adorn my cornrows with gold cuffs and the little gold beads reminiscent of the 1990’s. After the movie Poetic Justice
I switched to box braids to emulate Janet Jackson. Next it was hair crotched into my cornrows, Goddess braids, Senegalese twists, burnt ends, dipped ends, ends set on rollers…I have worn it all. My mother, who is my primary hairdresser, and I have bonded over my hair more times than I can count. In her words she, “experiments with creating a work of art” using my natural hair. For me, braids are my past, my present and if I ever have a daughter they will be a part of my future. They symbolize a beauty that is uniquely rooted in African heritage. But most important, my braids symbolize a maternal bond that is sacred to both my mother and I.
When I asked Debra, “Why create this holiday?” she said, “International I Love Braids Day was an idea I thought of long ago. As a Braider I understood the attachment of Braids to our culture, and history, and wanted a full celebration centered around every aspect of braids.” It took Debra approximately three months to receive an official Proclamation for the holiday, awarded on July 21, 2017. In Debra’s words, “Receiving the Proclamation was more than I ever imagined. It was simply GLORIOUS!”
According to Debra, “I believe braids are an acceptable way for us to wear our hair in every environment – professional, special occasion, wedding, and on, and on. Braids are beautiful, sexy, attractive and any other complimentary term used for straight hair. The sheer beauty, artistry and design of Braids are worthy of a day”.
To commemorate the first holiday an event was held from 11:00am-5:00pm to honor the tradition of braids. Swag was sold, a live DJ kept the tunes rolling, women displayed amazing braided styles during a runway show and there was even a brief speech on the origin and history of braids. Being that the holiday was made to travel outside of New York City, Debra believes that, “No matter what what city you live in, or continent you live on, you are encouraged to add your personal style to the holiday.”