Monday, July 14, 2008

That Hair Thing



You can't look at images of black models in fashion magazines without noticing that there seems to be a fear of kinky black hair in the industry. Unless it is played for laughs, like in Moschino's recent advertisement, naturally kinky hair on a model is a no no. I recall reading an interview with Veronica Webb where she mentioned that she got individual braids once and her bookings stopped almost immediately. She had to run and take them out to keep working.

In fashion there are three acceptable ways for black models to wear their hair: shaved close to the scalp so as not to offend, weaved up, or relaxed (preferably with extensions to add length.) I've read the stories countless times told by models who have had their hair destroyed by stylists who don't know what to do with it. Even Naomi, who is the queen of the flawless weave, has been sporting a fragile looking hairline these days.

That's why I love baby-faced model Wakeema Hollis who is one of the few regularly working black models who sports natural hair longer than an inch. Occasionally TPTB slap a wig or extensions on her but her hair (along with those lips and long graceful neck) have become her signature. Interestingly, she is also in that Moschino ad wearing an afro wig. Go figure.

sources: simplylovely/TFS, models.com, Myspace, WhyNot

17 comments:

lapetitediva said...

She's beautiful. Love her eyes and her lips.

Chrystale(sp?), I forget how to spell her name, but she's a very fair-skinned Black model who wore her hair natural. (I don't know if she's around or if she's retired.)

I can't pinpoint exactly why, but that Moschino ad bothers me. I don't know if "exploitative" is the right word, but it just doesn't seem very...complimentary, for lack of a better word.

Camille Acey said...

this girl is GOR-GEOUS, the face of an angel and beautiful hair. i hope she (and her agency) keeps selling herself in this total package!

sdg1844 said...

She's lovely. I'm exhausted w/the comprimises black women have to make on the regular. Just chaps my ass.

Brigitte said...

@lpd - I love Chrystele Saint Louis Augustin too. Last time I saw her was on a Sephora catalog cover but that was at least two years ago. I have no idea if she's still working as a model.

model liberation said...

This girl is adorable. What's very interesting is that in fashion, they prefer girls with extensions, but commercials are completely different. The only black girls who book commercials have curly hair.

Ebony Intuition said...

They fear black hair because they don't know what to do with it, mind you its an industry that is suppose to have the best hairdressers, stylist, designers you would think that they would learn to work with different texture hair.

I remember working back stage at a fashion show in Toronto and one of the models just got up out of her chair and did her hair herself because the hairdresser looked so afraid to do it.

Anonymous said...

Why are people so afraid of gorgeous looking hair?? Why are people afraid of hair at all? It's such a strange thing to me, this obsession with hair.
It was like with full lips, no one liked full lips until Angelina Jolie showed up one day...then it was like, full lips are sexy and beautiful, we love full lips.
This fear of hair is the most bizarre and confusing thing, I still can't wrap my brain around it.

Safera said...

Wakeema has the sweetest face. I can't help but smile whenever I see her in an ad. I love the way she wears her her (probably because I wear mine very similarly)and I'm glad we see her with her natural hair most of the time.

@Model liberation
Interesting point I have noticed that too.

Naturally Sophia said...

I love her; she is gorgeous. Simply chic and stunning.

RyanB said...

This issue kills me. I watch Tyra slap a weave or relaxer on every girl on ANTM and I just want to scream at the television. The one girl, with "crazy, natural hair" got booted in the first episode of that season.

Don said...

black women are so beautiful. they should remain honored.

Brigitte said...

@ryanb

Don't get me started on ANTM. I'm still mad that the seasonn Yaya was on, they took the girls to that "fancy" salon for makeovers and the woman doing Yaya's natural hair didn't even know how to comb it. Yaya had to tell the woman to comb it out from the ends to the root and not vice-versa. Of course it was edited to make Yaya look like a bitch for not wanting that woman to rip out her hair with that tiny comb.

Also, the year Ebony was on and Tyra had the bright idea to give her waist length micro braids that probably weighed 20 lbs by themselves. She was eliminated during the next challenge for not being able to whip those braids around in the wind during the photoshoot.

Chic Noir said...

Cosign with model liberation.

Chrystelle Saint Louise is still working. I saw her pic on IMG or Elite the other day.

I have seen blk models with natural hair in high fashion editorials. Runway shows are rareer(tp) because most of the time all of the models are to have the same look. Since there are very few runway shows that feature a lineup of all blk models, it's highly unlikely that you will see many naturals on the runway.

I have notices that today's blk models wear less full on weaves like Naomi,Tyra and Berverly did back in the day.

nineanais said...

OOOhh!! Please do a post on Tyra and the hair crimes she has committed on ANTM...on herself and others. I mean, I can appreciate a good lace front wig, but she can afford to switch it up.

Beautifully.Conjured.Up said...

I find her look chic, fun, and refreshing. She is just beautiful, especially her lips.

I appreciate Black women who wear their hair natural, especially the ones in the industries of entertainment and fashion because its hard to stand firm in those industries. Maybe I'm being bias because I'm natural, but I think its the only way to be :)

nyc/caribbean ragazza said...

I have natural hair. I stood out in Los Angeles. Now living here in Rome, it's no biggie.

I love Hollis.

Yes, please do a post on ANTM. What is up with all the weaves?

Nubian Princess said...

she is gorgeous! nappy/kinky heads definitely add something new and fresh to the fashion industry. It will become more acceptable. One model at a time.