Crowns of curls, braids and colorful extensions floated through Pier 36.
Black women of all ages took pictures and posed in front of posters displaying Madam CJ Walker, Josephine Baker, Michelle Obama and other women of color whose beauty and style have set and enforced trends loved by black women. The scent of shea butter, coconut oil, and sweet creams from the market place filled the space prompting carnival goers to shop around from booths filled with products made by and for black women.
Essence Beauty Carnival, a two-day event, began on April 27 and was created to provide a space for women of color to embrace their beauty and learn about self-care, health, and wellness. “Our whole mission is to serve women,” said Richelieu Dennis, owner of Essence. In the background, carnival goers rushed to see singer Justine Skye’s performance on the main stage.
Earlier that day, 10 a.m. to be exact, A’lelia Bundles, Shanie Crowe and Neijae Graham- Henries day on a panel to discuss “Black Beauty’s Past, Present, and Future.” A conversation with Danessa Myricks titled “Get the Glow Like A Pro” followed at around 10:45 a.m. Six talks later, Love and Hip Hop: New York’s Yandy Smith took the stage drawing a crowd of women; some who didn’t mind sitting on the floor if it meant catching the gems being dropped.
In the “Glow While You Grind” segment, Smith explained how she’s able to practice self-care while keeping up with her busy schedule. She also shares how she approaches motherhood. “I think it’s super important for babies, especially my little girls, to understand that they’re magical,” Smith said. “In my time brown girls weren’t celebrated. The guys wanted, in my era, the pretty, mixed, beautiful [girl]. So I wanted to make sure that I raise beautiful girls that understood they were magic.”
When she isn’t raising her kids, Smith is filming Love and Hip Hop, which is going on its 10th season, releasing skin care products under her line, Yelle; and producing a few projects as well. “I am currently producing three TV shows. They’re all on different levels,” she explained. “Please pray for me,” she continued.
Singer Elle Varner wrapped up the talks with the “Elevate Your Beauty” segment where she shared her love for thrifting and DIYs with the audience. With a swift set change, Justine Skye was on stage performing a few singles while sharing pieces her personal growth with a crowd of black women who clapped and hollered in support the whole time.
A true demonstration on black girl magic.