New York based photographer, Nakeya Brown is noted for her work’s relatability and ability to flip the gaze on to the viewer, forcing them to see themselves in her photographed subjects. This characteristic is replicated in her photo series on ‘Good Hair’, an exploration of the obsession and consumption of “natural feeling, lighter, softer” Kanekalon hair, within the black community.
Striking in its presentation, the photo essay shows portraits of poised women consuming handfuls of hair, and also presents images of hair next to a plate of traditional African-American dishes. This juxtaposition of hair to food is exposes the relevance of hair in the lives of many black women – an implication that our hair becomes almost as important as what we consume.
Over the past few years, the historically used idiom of “good hair”, has been challenged with the natural hair movement, encouraging many black women to embrace the hair that naturally grows out of their head, and more importantly to believe that it is good hair. Nakeya’s series is an additional piece to the bodies of work that are exposing the racialized ideologies behind our very existence, and by examining how beauty is perceived within black communities, there is the hope that this will challenge us to think deeply about how perceive ourselves.