When University of Illinois graduate student Brittney Henton began creating her final journalism documentary, she chose a story with deep roots and colorful accents: the story of African American hair. You can watch Henton’s Hair Journey below, or on Vimeo.
Henton interviewed women of all ages to discover their individual “hair journeys.” They shared stories about growing up with naturally curly/kinky hair, which requires special care because of the fragility of curly roots. Her research found that 70-80% of African American women choose to “relax” their hair via strong hydroxide chemicals; others straighten it with heated combs or encourage it to “go natural” with a full curly style. Henton’s 45-minute documentary covers the history, culture, economics and expressionism of all types of African American hair.
Among the interviewees is LPK’s Elle Morris, who spoke from her experiences branding and marketing international beauty products, including hair-care products formulated specially for African American hair.
Morris, as well as some of the other interviewees, discuss the beauty industry and the pressure for African American women to straighten their hair, with advertisements and role models presenting hair in a “glossy” look. The natural style, however, is making a strong comeback — encouraged partly by the recent recession, the dangers of relaxing chemicals and an upswing in natural ethnic hair-care products.
For more on Brittney Henton, check out her blog, Why is it?.