I’m very excited to introduce a long-awaited and very important project to me: Black is Beautiful: Afro Textured Hair in the Beauty Industry
Black is beautiful.
Black is dynamic, diverse and individual; but Black is not one thing, one look, one culture, one identity. Black is myriad.
Unfortunately, that isn’t how Black beauty is presented in the beauty and fashion industries, nor society in general. Inclusivity for People of Color, particularly Women of Color, within white spaces, is far too often a gesture of mere tolerance, if not shameless exploitation. Black aesthetic has historically been rejected, persecuted and denigrated before it’s “accepted”; but only to the extent that it can be appropriated. Contemporary representation of Women of Color is rife with tokenism, white-washing, and objectification; inundated with imagery of Black Women as either impersonal objects of exotic mystery, hollow, self-serving demonstrations of progressive wokeness, or as the sterile “alternative” variation of the white “standard”. With no legitimate representation for Black Women, stereotypes and dehumanizing characterization have become the narrative within which they are relegated to in mainstream society, media, and politics. Our aim with this project is to deconstruct those problematic and patronizing depictions of Women of Color by showcasing a group of diverse, beautiful Black Women in a contemporary and culturally empowering context. Each of the nine models featured are wearing their hair natural; styled in modern and artistic adaptations of quintessential protective and traditional Black styles. The makeup pays homage to the multitude of tribal and ritualistic traditions that exemplify African heritage, and the wardrobe selections feature an amalgamation of the shapes, colors, patterns and textures that nod respectfully to the vast and varied cultures of Africa. All nine women featured here proudly express their own unique Blackness, demonstrating as much of a diversity amongst them as they have in common. Because Black isn’t one thing, one look, one culture, or one identity. Black is myriad. Black is dynamic. Black. Is. Beautiful.
Credits:Photography: Jonny EdwardDesigns: GoldenDiva DesignsHair: Erik Lindström; assistants: Carla Ruiz, Jazmine Gibson, Olivia BlackwellMakeup: Jasmine Thompson; assistant: Angelica NavarroModels: Samantha Joseph, Mars Woche, Omo Odia, Regina Ann Grace, Nyasia Smith, Ariel Robinson, Alicia Myers, Shaelyn Birkedahl, Janelle Tejan