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Hamda for Dazed, styling Nathan Klein, hair Jawara, make-up Susie SobolPhotography Kyle Weeks

Four Dazed contributors on what black hair looks and feels like to them

Justin French, Cyndia Harvey, Kyle Weeks, and Yohana Lebasi celebrate the beauty and power of black hair

Welcome to Rooted, a campaign celebrating the power of black hair and the launch of ‘Tallawah’ – an exhibition by photographer Nadine Ijewere and hairstylist Jawara Wauchope. Here, we explore what the beauty of black hair is all over the globe, from Jamaica to London and New York to the screens of Nollywood films. 

To kick off our new campaign Rooted: The Beauty of Hair, Dazed Beauty photographic editor and producer Saorla Houston reached out to our community of contributors to find out what black hair looks and feels like to them. 

Spanning across history, time, and cultures, looking back through the archive and forward to the future, Justin French, Cyndia Harvey, Kyle Weeks, and Yohana Lebasi have submitted images that have inspired them in their work as well as examples of their own work which will no doubt inspire the next generation of image-makers to come. 

From J. D. ‘Okhai Ojeikere’s anthropological work archiving and celebrating Nigerian hairstyles to Dennis Rodman’s unapologetically bold patterns, these images showcase the depth and breadth of the beauty of black hair, honouring the traditions of those who came before and spotlighting the innovation of whats to come. 

JUSTIN FRENCH, PHOTOGRAPHER

“As it pertains to black beauty, it is not fast nor simplistic. It is a labour of great detail and passion, the results of which are a marvel. It has been my pleasure to experience, research and collaborate in the making of timeless images of black beauty with such a wide selection of individuals. It feels great to be contributing to the future history of beauty archives.”

CYNDIA HARVEY, HAIRSTYLIST

“Ask any black person about their hair and they have a rich and colourful history to share. From growing up in-between our mothers’ legs to the vibrant communities of barbershops and hair salons, hair is undoubtedly the birthplace of personal style for many and a sort of sacred ritual of self-exploring. I talk about this on my Instagram page @thishairofmine (THOM) redefining the stigma around what it means to have and care for afro hair. These are some images of my work, some of trailblazers and some that move me. An ode to the cultural significance and multifaceted nature of hair across the African diaspora.”

KYLE WEEKS, PHOTOGRAPHER

“Hair is not just hair! It’s an integral part of our body image, our self-expression. But besides it being decorative, hair is political! Endless different styles are imbued with signs and symbols that suggest the desires and emotions of that individual and/or their community. Surely in 2020 one need not be black to appreciate the importance of black hair or that of any person for that matter.

As a white man having grown up in Southern Africa I would argue that people actually have very little idea about its history or cultural relevance. I don’t claim to know these all these intricacies either but I am learning in open discussion and through my practice as a photographer. I hope that my imagery of hairstyles amongst African youth helps to facilitate a broader understanding and a shift in perception of hair across race and culture.”

YOHANA LEBASI, STYLIST

“Black hair is ultimately about expression. It is so closely linked to identity and community. Equally, if not more, than style and dress. The traditional Eritrean braids I have included are done to represent varying ethnic groups (identity). Kelis’ neon tresses have been replicated throughout time and indicate a belonging to the Kelis school of thought (community). All of the images I selected are striking displays of black hair and identity innovation. They continue to influence my own hair choices as well as the way I view and interact with hair in my work.”

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