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Crystal's Afro for Debenhams

Written By michels Ella on Monday, 11 July 2011 | 17:25

Crystal's Afro works for Debenhams Designers


A week ago I was successfully cast to appear in an advert for Debenhams. It wasn't anything major but I was still very excited as I haven't done anything for an audience or camera since last year; but also because, for every other performance related thing iv ever been involved in I've always "played it straight" as far as my hair's been concerned.
playing it straight at Miss JAUK

I guess it's that whole idea of #Natural Progress - I know this time a few years ago I would not have believed I'd be chosen or accepted for anything with my natural hair, but this year I'm undeterred. 
Yea, I'm conscious that there are some less accepting attitudes towards natural hair but I love it, and I think it's as worthy as any other hair type.

When I thought about going for this job, I did wonder how my natural hair might effect my chances. I guess that's why I'm pleased I got it because it was a small chance for me to do my bit in getting Afro hair seen especially in a form of mainstream media. Although its only in the background its a step ahead of not being there at all. Being there to represent a fashion brand with my Afro, I hope is step in the direction of positive associations and acceptance of natural hair (coming soon: world domination.)

Designer Julian MacDonald was on set
One of the best things about the shoot - aside from meeting the designers and all the free food which was Ah-may-Zing!, was the response I got from other people about my hair.
Designer Henry Holland was on set

When the hair stylist 1st saw my hair I thought it might be a problem - note: the girl standing next to me had a sleek, straight-cut, blonde bob, that he'd just described as "perfect", so you can see why I became a little unsure. Happily enough it turned out that he and the whole hair team LOVED "the natural look" and thought it'd be "Great" for the ad.
Initially arrived rockin a Chunky Braidout (which'll come as no surprise to regular readers, lol) and a flower which they decided to keep. When I got to Hair & Make-up, the stylist began asking me loads of questions about my hair like:
"Do I usually wear it out in an Afro?"
"Can I straighten it with a blow dryer and straighteners?"
At 1st I thought that he was implying that these were his intentions, at which point I got scared (and a number of expletives ran through my head.) He also suggested COMBING IT ALL OUT at which point I warned him he would loose all the curl definition that he was currently admiring.
Back from Hair & Make-up
It turned out he was only kidding and he actually knew a fair bit about Afro hair but he was curious about what I do with mine as so few of this clients wear their hair natural, and often those who appear to be, are actually just wearing Afro wigs. One of the other girls in make-up heard our chat and began about how much she loves Afro hair and used to want an Afro when she was a kid, and "Why don't more Black women wear their natural hair out?"
(Its the second time a White female has told me she wished for a 'fro. I wonder what their equivalent is to our towel swishing when we visualised straight hair as kids?)
The stylist decided to really tease out my hair and make it BIG! Bigger than I'm used to wearing it in public. It made me wonder:
- If more Black female models and celebrities had natural hair, then maybe there'd be more necessity and drive for stylists working in media to expand their skills to include us?

-Also are we (as Black women) just mis-educating previously open minds to become closed to the idea of natural hair as manageable if we're constantly avoiding sharing our natural hair with others?

-I guess it raises an Important question about what part Black people have to play in creating our own predjudices?

In the end, despite hiring 11 girls for the day they only used 5 of us, and I think it was the Afro that got me selected.
Aside from being selected, one of the biggest highlights of the day was talking to one of the younger hair stylist. She happened to be white and looked about the same age as me. When we eventually spoke she said to me "I love your hair and I LOVE IT THAT YOU ACTUALLY WEAR IT OUT!" The way she said it was so heart felt and genuine that it really moved me, and suddenly I thought all that time I'd spent in the past, hiding my hair, tying it back, perming it straight or wearing weaves, hadn't just been a disservice to me, but had also been a disservice to others.
 
I guess it's important not to be too quick to condemn others for not accepting Afro hair, when maybe, they haven'y been given the chance to.  





Click here to see all the photos from the shoot on the Crystal Afro Facebook Page

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