I named my series “HAIR LOVE?” in reference to the book Hair Love. HAIR LOVE? is a social commentary on the stigmas and double standard behind black hair. Often times, people are fascinated by ‘profound’ black hair styles, such as thick locs or big afros, and feel inclined to touch it. They may find it beautiful, mysterious, or just simply different. On the other side however, some find black hair styles as provocative, intimidating, or unprofessional. Some businesses and sports organizations have implemented a ban on specific black hair styles, forcing participants and employees to shave their heads in order to move forward in their respective environments. But is it really fair to judge someone based on their hairstyle before you even get to know who they are?
Due to the fact that hair bias is a form of oppression, I chose to present the series in black and white to show the intensity of the matter. I open the series with a close up on the subject on each model. I used flash for a natural contrast against a rough, recycled material wall to display the rough reality behind getting judged for your hair style. Next, I presented each subject smiling in a portrait to show that they’re more than just their hair style. They’re real people with real emotions who go through real things. In the third photo for each model, I presented an activity and phrase to contradict the stereotype assigned to each person. I used harsh lighting on the first photo, and softer lighting on the two that followed to show just how different the reality is versus the expectation.
To add, I first got inspired to do a project like this in 2019 when I shaved my head clean of my locs. The number one question I got asked the most was if I cut my hair in order to get a job. I felt like that was such a weak minded and weak willed expectation. I was somewhat offended by the question even. When shooting this project and editing it, I was finally able to express the feelings I felt back then through my art.