Re: Musings on Dance Africa, henna in NYC, and such

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Posted by Maureen on May 28, 2002 at 18:00:46:

In reply to: Musings on Dance Africa, henna in NYC, and such posted by Anne Beltestad on May 28, 2002 at 15:31:43:

Hi Anne,

Sounds like all in all you had a good experience for yourself and got
a chance to do a lot of henna on people. I love New York. So when
you describe your experience of takes me back. New York
reminds me of Washington, D.C. in many ways. There are people who the place and others who hate...hate...hate it
with just a much passion. New York wasn't a great match for me. So
much to do and I wanted to do it all NOW!!! I found Washington, D.C.
to have some of same things to offer and some wonderful things New
York does not offer...but more importantly for me, D.C. is small
enough to be be known...and to know.

It appears from your post that you haven't really henna'd many people
with darker skin.

"It was really interesting to be doing henna at an event where most of
the people were several shades darker than I am. My usual pleas to
henna the hands, feet, ankles, wrists, seemed to work better than
usual; people were aware that these are the best parts of the body
for henna (thanks to Maison Kenzi and others) and when I added that
any time I've hennaed my chest it doesn't take at all, pointing out
the greater contrast on my pale skin, people seemed to value my
I had several people who were very informed about PPD talk to others
watching while I worked, and surprised one couple by agreeing with
them from 15 feet away while hennaing that yes, they should always
make sure it's natural henna!"

A friend of mine was very fond of saying, "No right
to speak!" He rarely minced words. The way I would put it in this
situation is that it might serve you very well in the future to gain
some experience applying henna on various body parts of people of
dark skin and to watch the stain develop over time. That way you
will be able to speak first hand of how the stains develop. I think
you may be quite surprised with the results. If not surprised with
the results, surprised perhaps that your expectation of how the stain
should look against their skin and the customer's expectation of how
the resulting stain will and should look upon their skin is quite
different. Yes, henna stains best on hands and feet compared to
other body parts. But, don't ever dissuade people of darker skin
from having the experience of henna applied to other body parts
because you think it may not show up well enough or have heard that
it does not. The first is an opinion and the second appears to be
a "truism" that is not true.

If people of color keep hearing that from henna artist and truly
believe that the only place they can get decent stains from natural
henna is their hands and feet, if they want stains on other body
parts, the statement appears to be saying that "black henna with PPD"
is the only option. Which is simply not so. If people of color are
also told that "black henna with PPD" should not be an option because
it is potentially unsafe and they therefore dont want the "black
henna", they are left with no options except to get their hands and
feet done. People of color have the same options as anyone else.
And that, and nothing less, is the information that should be shared.

It is wonderful to provide henna at an affair like Dance Africa. It
would be more wonderful to provide the people attending with all
possible options and results that can be obtained from pure natural
henna. Stearing them to only have their hands and feet done does not
do that when choices of places to be henna'd is connected to the hue
of their skin.

The opportunity to henna a group of people of African descent and
provide information connecting henna to culture and tradition can
indeed be a good thing. But only good when the information presented
is accurate, correct and the result of that expedition my friend was
so fond of talking about. Otherwise, it is just a hook.



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