Behind the scenes at a shoot, NOT the one I’m speaking of in this post.
By Wakeema Hollis of Hollistics.com
I had a really awkward experience while shooting here in South Africa last week. It took me by surprise because I haven’t experienced this type of negativity toward my hair in so long. I was working for a major magazine which also publishes U.S and U.K. editions. I won’t name it because I actually want to work for them again and almost every woman I know reads it regardless of her race.
It was a direct booking which means I got the job on the strength of my book (modeling portfolio) alone. I didn’t even have to do a casting. This is always great because it means the client thinks my work speaks for itself. However, as soon as I walked in the door the hairstylist says “Ugh, I can’t deal with that hair! Nothing about it is sleek beautiful or chic! It’s so not (insert name of magazine here.)”
I stood there in shock! I had only said good morning and this guy went IN on my hair. I took a deep breath and explained that I don’t straighten my hair, ever. I asked if he had looked at my book before coming to work that day or if he just assumed that I would be another black model with extensions? I also inquired about his hairstylist kit because all he brought to work was a blow dryer, a flat iron and four silky straight clip-ins of varying lengths.
This sent him into full attack mode! He started snapping his fingers in a Z formation and told me he would “not be dealing with Naomi Campbell style divas today!” I took another deep breath to maintain my professionalism and explained that he was being extremely rude and unprofessional. (I highly doubt he would have started snapping in my face if I had been anything other than African-American.) However, his comment about Naomi Campbell triggered my memory and I thought back to the pictures I saw last year of her hairline which seemed to be suffering from traction Alopecia. This only made me stand stronger in defense of my own hair.
I calmly stated that there are tons of models out there with relaxed hair or extensions and that my natural hair is apart of my look. I explained that I would be more than happy to wear a wig to get the look he wanted, but no one had asked me to bring one and it was clear that he did not come prepared with a proper kit or any wigs. In the end I had to excuse myself and call my agent who was just as surprised as I was that someone was asking to straighten my hair. Being the amazing woman/agent she is, she stood up for me and told the client this was unacceptable.
Once the editor was called in to mediate the situation she admitted that she loved my hair the way it was and wanted the hairstylist to work with my natural texture. He was forced to get over his natural hair hating issues and work with my hair. (Isn’t that what a professional hairstylist is supposed to do?) After all the drama he did a great up-do and the rest of the day was smooth sailing. The pictures were awesome and the client couldn’t stop commending me for being a good model with great movement and professionalism (which they said they were not accustomed to.) We were all happy with the turn out and I knew my hair strands were quietly thanking me for standing my ground.
It just goes to show that no matter how well you care for your hair or how much you love your natural texture, there will always be nay-sayers that try to attack you when you least expect it. Sometimes you have to fight for your right to stay natural!
Wakeema Hollis is an international model and BGLH fan! She is one of the coolest chicks you will EVER meet so be sure to check out her blog hollistics.com or find her on Twitter twitter.com/misshollistics.