Nakeya Brown has added two more series of hair photography titled “Hair Stories Untold” and “If Nostalgia Were Colored Brown.”

We can’t wait to tell you all about it. But first, here is some context about why we care about Brown’s work.

Chimamanda Adichie caused quite a splash when she opened up about having a preference for natural black hair. Suddenly, everyone was picking sides. Some felt that Adichie was being prescriptive. Hair was personal and certainly out of the jurisdiction of any kind of cultural legislation. Others saw her point that hair was indeed political and that there is a problem when straight hair becomes the dominant standard of beauty and something to which black women feel they should aspire.

Adichie may have connected the dots linking hair, race, and femininity for her African audience, but, globally, the conversation had been going on for a while. People like Brown had been exploring the politics of hair, especially it significance for black femininity.

To be honest, amidst all the debates and outrage caused by Adichie’s statements, Brown’s work helped some of us gain perspective. What we love about Brown’s work is that it make taking sides unnecessary. For Brown, hair is never about which hair texture is appropriate or bad for black women. At the end of the day, straight and natural hair are different but valid ways of expressing blackness and femininity. Two years ago, we featured images from her “Refutation of Good Hair” series. [read here if you missed it]

In the “Hair Stories Untold,” she explores hair, transformation, and the kinds of cultural memories that make them possible. “If Nostalgia Were Colored Brown” focuses on the material objects linked to hair as a transformational ritual of beauty.

Congrats to Brown on this stunning and highly conceptual work.

Here are few selections we thought you guys would like.





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I'm finishing up a phd at Duke University where I study African novels, which I believe are some of the loveliest things ever written. Brittle Paper is the virtual space/station where I play and experiment with ideas on how to reinvent African fiction and literary culture.

2 Responses to “Nakeya Brown and the Beautification of Black Femininity” Subscribe

  1. jaja 2015/09/17 at 1:55 pm #

    I doubt Adichie ever said she “preferred”. She stated explicitly that both natural and artificial are ways of expression, that artificial isn’t superior and shouldn’t be THE standard, that women can do both. Please quote her in full, with the full context of her statements.

  2. jaguarnana 2015/09/18 at 4:23 am #

    I definitely can relate to a couple of this pictures and feels weird seeing these activities glamorized in these colorful pictures. I sure don’t feel glamorous (more like skittish) with a bowl of hot water by my neck whilst taming my hair braids.

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I hold a doctorate in English from Duke University and recently joined the Marquette University English faculty as an Assistant Professor. I love teaching African fiction and contemporary British novels. Brittle Paper is the virtual space/station where I play and experiment with ideas on how to reinvent African fiction and literary culture.

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