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Photography Agatha Powa

10 unsigned photographers capture black hair around the world

A new group of upcoming names from Thursday’s Child showcase the 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. 

After a selection of photographers from global collective Thursday’s Child responded to what masculinity looks like in 2019 for Behind the Masc: Rethinking Masculinity, we have now enlisted a new selection to contribute to Rooted: The Beauty of Hair. As with the rest of the week’s content, the images below showcase the power of black hair and each photographer’s images highlight different hairstyles and practices from all around the world. 

Here, they reflect on the hair memories that shaped them and muse on the power of black hair. 

AGATHA POWA  

What is your earliest hair memory?  

Agatha Powa: My earliest memory is of my mum and what seemed like hours of painful combing. 

Fily (hairstylist): A lot of hands in my hair.  

What is the power of black hair?  

Agatha Powa: Black hair is beautiful. It’s got so much history. So many shapes and forms. It creates bonds and breaks boundaries which shouldn’t be there in the first place. It’s culture. It can be a political statement. It‘s love; an elder giving their child’s hair the care it needs in order to be healthy. It’s bonding; a reason to meet up with your friends and braid each other’s hair. 

Fily: Black hair carries a lot, it can be the start of a dialogue, be a social and political statement, and at the same time, it teaches us about patience and self-care. 

CARY FAGAN

What is your earliest hair memory?

Cary Fagan: Well, for the first time in five years I have taken one side of my dreads out of their locs, and it’s a new feeling. I have some VHS documentation of the process entitled ‘shedding’.

My hair is bouncy – probably the healthiest it’s been without realising. I’m still not convinced that I would cut my hair. I’ve had short hair for most of my life. Ironically I’ve craved change and I think having an asymmetrical style is the right thing to do, eventually, I will take the left side out too. 

What do you think the power of black hair is?

Cary Fagan: From my perspective, having long hair is a symbol of rebellion. I always feel that I am altering perception when I speak to people who look at me without words. My hair now represents royalty and delicacy – it takes time to take care of locs – there’s a patience added with the upkeep. 

DAVEY ADESIDA

What is your earliest hair memory? 

Davey Adesida: My mother’s afro and pearl earrings. 

What do you think the power of black hair is? 

Davey Adesida: It’s beautiful and admired by all. Empowering. It’s a symbol.

JACK MAFFUCCI

What is your earliest hair memory?  

Jack Muffucci: My earliest hair memory is sitting in an empty tub while my dad cut my hair. I must’ve been three or four years old. 

What do you think the power of black hair is?  

Jack Muffucci: The power of black hair lies in its rich cultural history – hair is used as a means of self-expression. I believe black hair has the ability to transform a person into whoever they wish to be. 

JULIA CARBONELL  

What is your earliest hair memory?  

Julia Carbonell: I remember one of the first times my aunt was cutting my hair because she used to be a hairdresser and she would always do mine, I was at her hairdresser’s and it was Christmas. I was very young and I saw a lot of presents hanging on a Christmas tree she had there, and I obviously thought they were for real so I started unwrapping them, with the surprise that there were only carton boxes.

What do you think the power of black hair is? 

Julia Carbonell: As my friend Gabriela told me once while we were talking about her hair and the culture all around it: ‘The power of black hair is the freedom of speaking your culture through your genes.’

MARINA MURASHEVA  

What is your earliest hair memory? 

Marina Murasheva: I remember a small piece of my hair, bound with a small white ribbon, hidden in an old cranky envelope. It was very thin and soft. My granny cut it for herself as a memory. She passed away when I was four.

What do you think the power of black hair is? 

Marina Murasheva: No black hair is the same, literally. In styling, growing, care, texture – everything. 

RAHIM FORTUNE 

What is your earliest hair memory? 

Rahim Fortune: My earliest hair memories are around being a kid living in Texas in the early 2000s and being obsessed with hair icons like Allen Iverson and Sean Paul. I have been getting my hair braided since I was very young. I came to know myself through various forms of self-expression, hair being a big one.

What do you think the power of black hair is?

Rahim Fortune: The power in black hair comes first from our ancestors, who we represent when we wear natural hairstyles. Wearing my hair long and naturally gives me a heightened connection to myself, roots and community.

TERRY PAUL  

What is your earliest hair memory?

Hanifah (model): My earliest hair memory is my hair being policed. My school forced my mum to cut my hair because it was a ‘distraction’. The same thing is still happening in schools today.

What do you think the power of black hair is? 

Terry Paul: To me, the power of black hair is beauty in its purest, natural form. Expression through your hair, whether that be in different styles or colours, because of the versatility it allows. Your hair becomes your identity and your pride, so it’s about embracing the beauty of it. Also continuing to break the systematic oppression of what once was with black hair for the youth to see; being inspired, proud and appreciative of who we are through our hair.

THE MASONS

What is your earliest hair memory? 

Donne-Marie Mason: My earliest memory of my hair was when I was about eight or nine years old and I wanted to start plaiting my hair myself. My hair has always been my pride and joy and so important to me, so as soon as I felt old enough I wanted to take control of my own hair and get creative with it. I had been practicing doing plaits on my Girls World before that moment to get it perfect, so I couldn’t wait to be creative with my own hair. I found it very empowering and I have been looking after my hair and hairstyles ever since.

What do you think the power of black hair is? 

Donne-Marie Mason: My hair is my beauty and I wear it like a crown. I have always taken pride in my hair, it represents me, my personality and my culture and that’s where the power comes from. It shines so bright. I feel this is what’s within us and will always be within our culture – pride, freedom to be creative, self-expression and self-love for our hair.

WENDY SAMA

What is your earliest hair memory? 

Wendy Sama: The one that I’m the most conscious of is simply my mother doing my hair when I was a child. Doing tiny, tiny braids, and adding multicolour pearls at the end of each one, making noise with every move. 

What do you think the power of black hair is? 

Wendy Sama: The symbol attached to it. The fight for freedom, equality, and acceptance. Black hair was, and still is, a tool that can be used when we want to be heard and seen. 

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