Tuesday, July 17, 2012

Philadelphia Street Style: Bria, Walnut St

I've been noticing two-tone hair around Philly a lot lately. I like it. I especially like it combined with "natural hair." But what does it mean that so much "natural hair" is dyed? Is there a contradiction in this? I realize that natural hair refers to not using straighteners, relaxing agents, and other chemical hair treatments, and allowing African hair to retain all its curl, kink, and luster, but it's curious that "going natural" does not seem to apply to hair dying, another decidedly chemical alteration. Going natural seems to be more about texture than color these days. That was not the case, so far as I know, in the 1960s, when the first wave of natural hair became a visual and sartorial accompaniment to the civil rights movement. Perhaps natural hair today is embedded in a different politics, one based more on self-acceptance and individual expression than the defiance of hegemonic (i.e. white, bourgeois) standards of beauty. Or perhaps it is a fusion of both of these motivations. Readers, I'd be curious to hear your thoughts about it.

Bria is the first model I've photographed with her mother present. Their ideas about how Bria should look in this image were, needless to say, not the same. Bria favored the straight-on shot, no smile, no artificial pose, a seemingly neutral composition frequently employed by street style blogs as a way of implying objective recording. Plus, it looks cool. Bria is, no doubt, familiar with the convention. Her mother, on the other hand, wanted her to smile, and preferred the pictures I took where she was laughing between takes. I went with Bria's preference. After all, I am also following street style conventions. 


  1. Natural hair is such a touchy subject, i should know, i'm a part of that community. As widely known as it is, there are still ignorant people out there who expect things in their standards, the biggest one being the "work place." There are places that will not hire you if you have "unkempt" hair. It's sad because I thought we were in the 21st century.


  2. I love Bria's look - the two-tone hair, and the animal prints broken up with the grey jeans - it's incredibly cool, without looking like she's trying to be cool.


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