Like so many daughters from the Diaspora, I started relaxing my hair when I was a teenager. I didn’t know any better than that it was a rite of passage and I was happy to have my Afro straightened.
A few years later the fun was seriously over. Not only was the maintenance of permed hair grueling, even worse, I started to experience serious breakage. Terrified to end up bald, I decided to go natural which was a great decision. I started the journey that the many years of relaxing almost completely alienated me from my natural hair texture. I didn’t know much about natural hair care, let alone styling options. Then, I moved from Amsterdam, the Netherlands to Brooklyn, NY.
The Pursuit of Nappiness
Brooklyn added a whole new dimension to my natural hair world. Although I was used to my own natural hair at this time in the journey, I was hardly exposed to natural hairstyles. In the Netherlands where I had been living for over ten years even locs were a rarity. So when I just happened to come across the BAM Dance Africa Festival Fair in 2004, I went ballistic when I saw the colorful coifed heads.
For the first time in my life I entered a world where natural hairstyles were prevalent and the styles were just mind blowing! Never had I seen styles like these. It was like rediscovering my own natural hair. This was visible evidence of what my hair could actually do! Born with a full head of kinky curly coily nappy strands I had no clue about the styling options and was baffled by the beauty and the versatility of Black Natural Hair.
To share this unforgettable experience with everyone who would ever have the slightest interest in Black Hair or culture, I captured as many of the wonderful styles as possible. And ever since that day, I carry my camera to all summer fairs to capture many more of our beautiful people naturally.
The result is this collection that I named The Pursuit of Nappiness. These slides show you an uncommon world were natural African hair is “normal”.
My hair story isn’t unique. It is the story of many a daughter throughout the Diaspora. Therefore I sincerely hope that Black women all over the world can see their reflection in these beautiful images and that exposure to The Pursuit of Nappiness will inspire them to wear their hair natural. The ultimate goal is in healthier Black hair and more natural styles.
So I like to invite you to my next exhibit. Please check the Facebook Page Event Calendar.
Also read My Artist Statement
Update: My photos are now in this book: Bad Hair Uprooted, the Untold History of Black Follicles.