This is why wearing clothing that accurately portrays the power, beauty, and class of a Black woman is so important. We need to plant those seeds of identity that say ‘we are powerful, beautiful, strong, and valuable’ in our community to combat the lies that say ‘we are powerless, ugly, feeble, and worthless.’’ When our women conform to these outrageous lies, it perpetuates the cycle of violence, crime, miseducation, and poverty in our community. We can’t wait around for someone else to redirect our lost queens and kings tomorrow, we need to do it ourselves today.
This is why I fight so hard for the youth I work with. I can’t stand to see people fall short of their potential–especially when they fall short because they misidentify themselves. Our youth our utterly confused. I may not earn a lot of money taking kids from the hood across the globe to show them that there is so much more to life than what surrounds them, but at least at the end of the day I’ll have a sense of accomplishment that no amount of money could ever buy.
The photos: I had a lot of fun with this shoot and put a lot of preparation into it. I even spent some time practicing facial expressions in the mirror to prevent mistakes that I made in previous shoots. I took over 400 photos for this shoot and it was hard to narrow it down to 10 photos. Akim, if you are not satisfied with these images or would like to see more, I’d be happy to share!
Hair prep: To prep my hair for the shoot, I sprayed it with water, untangled it, mosturized my scale with the Going-natural.com Shea butter and then mosturized my hair with the Jamaica Mango & Lime leave-in conditioner.
Photo 1-2: The Original Ride or Die Chick
For the first shot, I twisted my hair in the front and draped the twists over my forehead. I then secured them with a couple hairpins. Lastly, I pulled the rest of my hair into a ponytail. For the second shot I parted my hair horizontally into three sections. I then made a bun with each section.
Photo 3-4: My hair is 100% organic
For these shots, I simply parted my hair down the middle and pulled each side into a puff ball. (note to Akim, I also have a couple shots with the text on the back of the T-shirt displayed)
Photos 5-6: Statue of Liberation
I combed out my hair a bit and shaped it into an afro. I also used a bit of the GN.com curl keeper to define the curls more and get the shape I needed.
Photos 7-8: For Colored Girs
For these shots I parted my hair into three sections vertically. I then parted the middle section into 5 horizontal sections so that I had a total of 7 sections. I then formed each section into a bun. I used hairpins to create a hump at the front of the middle section.
Photos 9-10: [true] Definition of a black woman
I pulled the side sections of the previous style to the back and then twisted all the hair in the back upward. I then took medium sections of hair, twisted them into coils, and pinned them down.
I really loved this part of the challenge. I got to do a lot of dramatic make up and poses. It was a lot of fun. The theme for this part of the shoot is “Dreamland” My goal was to create vibrant, eye-catching, and vivid shots that represent that abstract and mysterious qualities of dreams. The hair in the first shot is the same as that in the definition of a black woman pictures. For the tiger shot, I used white eyeshadow and black eyeliner to create the tiger nose and whiskers. For my hair, I removed the twists and pulled my hair to the side.
I used scarves in two of the shots because I think they are unique to African/African American culture and I don’t see them as hiding our hair, but rather protecting it and making a fashion statement. I wear scarves often and I wanted to use them in the shoot.
The last shot is one of my favorites. It portrays my dream persona leaving dreamland and entering into the confines of reality. I did this shot in the window by my front door. It was the most difficult pose I have ever done. It was really hard to keep balance and remain still long enough for my photographer to get a good shoot. The hairstyle is the same as that in the For Colored Girls T-shirt pictures.
Today I have the privilege and opportunity of traveling to Greece for an MBA renewable energy project. In recent conversations with classmates I was informed that I should straighten my hair for the trip. But guess what? When I board that plane from New Orleans, LA to Athens, Greece you can BET that my hair will be kinky, natural, curly and beautiful. That’s the way God put hair on my head and that’s the way I’m going to wear it.
I would like to say a BIG thank you to my photographer and former co-worker, Frank Coco and to my roommate Jazmine McKinney for helping with my hair. I would also like to thank Selma Alamin for doing my makeup for challenges 1, 4, 5, and 7 and for doing my ‘big chop’ before the competition started. You all were an essential part of this competition and I couldn’t have done it without you.
This challenge was sponsored by Soul Seed Tees where you can get the beautiful shirts.