"As Told By Black Women' is a body of work that explores the relationship Black Women have with their hair and how the Eurocentric lens of beauty has shaped how they view themselves. This project started off as my Masters Thesis of Visual Communications from Newhouse and quickly blossomed into something more.
Over the course of 7 months, I photographed 25 women from different age ranges and hair types leading with the question "What does good hair mean to you". In the Black community having “good hair” means having long loose curls, not short “nappy hair”. Women who cut their hair close to their heads are seen as manly or unattractive leading many to believe that their hair is their only identity. Struggling not only with everyday upkeep of Black hair but also trying to be accepted by their community in the choices they make regarding how they wear it.
This deep-rooted culture around hair within the Black community and what it means to us individually is what sparked my passion for learning about different perspectives on this topic.Hearing from these women and listening to their stories I was able to learn new experiences and appreciate those that differed from mine. I am hoping that with this body of work I will be able to open up further dialogue on Black hair and the oftentimes negative commentary and pressure that not only people outside of the Black community push on us but also ones that come from within it.
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Ryan & Michelle