ELLE Canada Pays Tribute to Black Hair in “Natural Anthem”
ELLE Canada got the memo when it came to conversations about cultural appropriation and why women of color are so protective of braids, afros and everything in between. ELLE’s September issue (which everyone knows is like the holy bible of beauty and fashion out of the entire year) features a tribute to black hair which actually features black models. In 2016, this shouldn’t be as big of a deal as it is, but due to high fashion magazines often using celebrities like Kylie Jenner crowned in cornrows or Fergie to rock Bantu knots, it just may be something to be celebrated.
The magazine’s beauty director, Vanessa Craft posted the following to her Instagram account:
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"September Issue realness: I have wanted to do a shoot like this for a long, long time – a visual love letter to the girls I grew up with and the women we have all become. Hair is such a hugely important part of our world and I wanted to celebrate it authentically. (P.S. I have worn every hairstyle in this shoot at some point in my life. Bantu knots is a personal fave). Shoutout to the amazing team who worked with us, especially @justinggg who spun magic on these beautiful young women." – @vanessacraft, beauty director. Link in bio to meet the six models in our shoot👆🏾🙌🏿👏🏽 #naturalhair #blackhair #bantuknots (📸: @satyandpratha)
The featured story is called “Natural Anthem Beauty Shoot” and showcases six women of color rocking a collection of styles including afro puffs, baby hair and of course braids. The six models are as rich in diversity as they are melanin, hailing from Kenya, Burundi, and Canada. One of them was even discovered at a Beyonce concert in Toronto. In the article the models discuss what it was like being a part of the shoot, favorite hair care products, their day-to-day makeup routines, the relationships they have with their hair and their own treasured beauty icons.
Aliisa, a model rocking a and edgy pixie cut revealed why this shoot was so different for her:
“I’ve never been in a photo shoot where it’s all black people. Usually there is one black person and seven Caucasian women. We all come from different backgrounds and we can share stories together. And I kind of feel at peace because at other shoots, nobody would talk to each other.”
She also shared a story about that may be familiar to many young women of color when it comes to growing up with black hair:
“My sister is a hairdresser. I started with braids. My mom wouldn’t let me wear a weave because she said it would be too grown-up for me. Grade 5 graduation was the only time I could wear one; it was a clip-on ponytail. In Grade 8, I got to wear a long weave. I loved it! I would get it sewn in. But I would have to straighten it and comb it out, or brush it out. In high school, I started wearing all natural. [Wearing a weave] is too much time. You have to maintain it.”
I must say, as a young girl growing up surrounded by issues of Seventeen and YM that rarely featured black models and when they did it was in the form of a Lisa Bonet lookalike, I can appreciate ELLE’s effort to give voice to what growing up as a black girl with black hair is really like. You can pick up the issue on newsstands now.