Social class, functionality, politics and fashion all play a part in the way that women style their hair, with fashions changing in relation to themes such as feminism, emancipation and economic freedom.
With such important ideas to explore, artists have long been interested in this subject, with some incredible photographs emerging over the years in relation to the topic of black hair.
The late Nigerian photographer, JD ‘Okhai Ojeikere, was best known for his striking black and white portraits of Nigerian women and their intricate hair braiding, and more recently Chicago-based hairstylist-turned-artist, Shani Crowe, explored the heritage, rituals and beauty of black femininity in her first solo show, Braids.
While these may be foreign examples, the hairstyles worn by KZN women are no less interesting, or important as indicators of changing times. It would be wonderful to see an exhibition, or even better yet, a book published that examines the history of women’s hair in KZN.