In the days of slavery, white people stripped African Americans of their culture and values and required them to physically, psychologically, and legally treat whites as their superior. Within that oppression, a hegemonic beauty standard based on white characteristics emerged. Once slavery was abolished, customs and laws continued to oppress African Americans and have become increasingly more covert.
In a primarily permed world, African American women tend to “relax” their hair in order to achieve the white beauty standard. It is important to understand that the “good hair versus bad hair” debate is a discourse based on race and continues to reinforce racism in this day and age.
Today, there is a strong movement of natural hair emerging in which black women are keeping their hair natural as a sign of resilience and unity. It is seen as a way to reclaim a past as well as a way to demonstrate new standards of beauty for black women all over the world.
It is my stark purpose to join in that movement and express that every woman is an individual and standards of beauty adjust accordingly. Being a white male unable to physically relate, I have taken on the responsibility of driving home the point that Natural Hair is big, bold, and beautiful.
The project will eventually consist of an art showing at a to be announced location featuring photos of the models and information about them and their hair. Live music will be provided by Michael Joyner, Barbara Lester, and possibly others.
If you are interested in contributing to this project, building your portfolio for free, or just having fun, please meet the obvious requirements (African American, and female with natural hair) and contact me (Dustin Taylor) via firstname.lastname@example.org or 865-235-4482.
A set of questions, a personal interview, and a photo shoot will be required for all models. You will receive all the photos free of charge via email or other means as necessary.
A journal of updates is being kept under the “Updates” page.
If you would like to donate to this cause, you can use PayPal to send a donation which will be used to maintain the page, print photos, and rent space for the art show. Thanks.
Special thanks to: Larissa Rutherford, Barbara Lester, & Michael Joyner.