We Are Women
Our crowns it’s a series of 10 photographic portraits of African women and their hair. Like many of us, hair is a valuable assertion to a woman. It does not only signify beauty but is another rudimentary part of a woman that holds pride and power. I very much find black women’s hair liberating and expressive which is quite evident to how we aesthetically present our hair differently based on social, political, cultural and spiritual stance. And with no limitations to just hair we were born with but how we confidently wear our crowns from shaved, braided and wrapped.
“This is the most practical and best hair do I could ever ask for. No taff, no fuss. 2. As much as it serves me well where style is concerned, it is more about an affirmation, assertion from myself to myself that no matter what, I am enough. When shaved my head clean for the first time (2010) I looked in the mirror and for the first time I saw myself. Really saw myself for who and what I truly am. It was a moment for me that carried so much profundity and power that became an intrinsic part of my self-discovery journey. It did a lot for my confidence too. I became bolder, that’s when the fire cracker in me came out and I enjoyed it. I love it. But most importantly with no hair, really I am naked; which means extremely vulnerable because it’s me facing myself and what I do with that information is up to me. So I celebrated me. I have this belief that I will never ever in my life look or feel any better than when my head is clean shaven because it is when I truly come out. It is like my own personal spring time, inside and out. Because sometimes we forget ourselves, what we are but then still come back to ourselves and instinctively know how to remind ourselves to ourselves. For me ke chiskop.”
I usually have an afro, but when I feel overwhelmed or stagnant in my own I always cut my hair short, for renewal/ freshness, a sense of new beginnings. Afro can also be alot of maintenance, short hair is much easier to take care and I enjoy that. 2. I guess there is a fashionable aspect to my hair but I really just go for what suits me as opposed to what’s fashionable. There aren’t any spiritual or political associations to my hair. It really us about me, what I want, what’s convenient and what I feel comfortable with. And maybe because we live in a world where beauty is prescribed to women, making a choice about my hair and my aesthetic without considering how it looks for other people(esp men) is a bit political.
Hello. My name is SimZz and am human [Laughs]. To be quite honest, I never thought about why I have dreadlocks. It was a random decision that I made and until now I’m very happy that I made that decision. To me dreadlocks are very simple, not stressful. What is a bad hair day when I have my very simple and beautiful crown that I treat however I want to. To answer your question, I have dreadlocks because they are simple, beautiful and there is nothing like Bad Hair Day. 2. This is a hard one. . . I’ve always wanted to have dreadlocks, but with the schools I went to they were not allowed. And I grew up with a phrase that Your Hair Is An Accessory, So Play With It; and my mother was a hairstylist so you can imagine how many hairdos I had growing up [Laughs].But thankfully, I went through a journey of finding self and I realised staff about myself. I met God with her beautiful long black hair, beautiful black skin and the fierceness in her. And she gave me all reasons to own my crown that no one will take away from me.
“I wanted an ombre afro and the colours went well with the winter season. 2. It is an expression. It is Art. It’s a part of my identity. I love creating different looks depending on my mood, inspiration etc. I’m inspired by ancient African hairstyles(these are still creative, authentic, beautiful they tell a story) I guess the colours I chose represent fire. I’m on fire gal![laughes]. Back to the question It’s all about the above depending how you look at it. It’s fashionable because its funky, cool, interesting. It’s social because I get people talking and it encourages people to be themselves, It is spiritual since I’m comfortable in my own skin.”
“My hair is another element that allows me to embrace the Africa in me. It’s really that simple. 2. I realised my self-love and pride was not evident in my quest to conform to the beauty standards that did not leave room for black people to celebrate their African-ness , their nature. I didn’t want to live in that bias anymore, I wanted to create my own standards of beauty that allowed me to embrace everything about me that is African. I looked in the mirror and I saw my blackness, I saw beauty, I saw strength – I saw me. I needed someone to look at me and by something as simple as my hair realise that I am a proud black woman who is comfortable in her own skin, I chose my hairstyle because I love being black.”
“ I’ve always loved braiding my hair and after cutting my dreadlocks I fell in love with how braids made me look and feel. For this hairstyle particularly, I channelled Mirriam Makeba’s signature hairstyle from back in the days. For someone who is trying to grow her hair on the sides after flourishing in a fade haircut, this hairstyle is perfect. I managed to look great while hiding the parts of my hair that are still growing. 2. I’d say that my hairstyle decisions are political. I deliberately go out and search for African tribal inspired hairstyles because of the confidence they give me that I lacked as a child because the aim was for my hair to always be straightened and that did nothing for me because my hair didn’t quite co operate, but with these hairstyles my hair just works.”
“On why she chooses to wear her crown you can never understand the relationship between me and my headwraps, your hair will turn grey trying to decipher it. 2. Having being bestowed the spiritual gift of uk’boniswa, having my head covered to me is a sure way of showing respect to abo gogo nabo Mkhulu. I also feel like my strength lies in my head covered. Oh and also I look like a slice of heaven with a headwrap on [laughs].”
“Besides that its easy and cheap to maintain I like my hair natural. 2. It is not political, or social or fashionable. It is my hair. I was born with it. It has nothing to do with the situations if this world”
“I know a lot of people know these dreads were grown on my lover’s head. They’re important not only because I share them with someone I love, but also cause I find a lot of freedom in it to be any character I want to be that day. It’s an aesthetic I’ve always dreamed about, this one of big hair that scares children. It’s political because black hair is always political. And it’s fabulous because black hair is always fabulous.”