15 Black Women and Their Hair: Photo Essay

As part 3 of this ‘Black Women and Hair’ exploration, I asked 15 black women to send me a picture of themselves showing off their favorite hairstyle. This photo essay shows the versatility of our styles and the range of our views on hair. These women rock their hairstyles with confidence whether they decide on curls, twists, weaves, or perms. Like Maya Angelou says “hair is a woman’s glory,” and these 15 women know exactly what that means.

Here’s what these beautiful ladies had to say about their tresses:

“I like my hair in this style because it’s so easy. Ever since I big chopped this has been my “go to” style whenever any other style attempt has failed.” -Kayla

Pictured: Kayla

Pictured: Kayla





“I like this style because I don’t have to put a comb to my hair for four days! It’s hard to find a style that requires low maintenance.” -Nisla


Pictured: Nisla





“I love my hair in twists because it shows my heritage. It’s natural and beautiful. I love my true self.” -Kia

Pictured: Kia

Pictured: Kia





“I like my hair in this style because I love extensions. It brings me comfort and brings out my features.” -Valerie

Pictured: Valerie

Pictured: Valerie





“My hair is chemical free. It’s stronger and not breaking as easily– and I can be creative with it. I look beautiful. I love it.” -Shandelle

Pictured: Shandelle

Pictured: Shandelle





“My hair is a style without a style in a way because of it’s unique color. Even wearing it straight makes a statement and earns me a lot of praise from people.” -Camille

Pictured: Camille

Pictured: Camille





“I like my hair in this look because I felt super confident, like my hair never needed a perm or weave to boost my confidence. Actually, I was terrified of doing it because I knew the stares would’ve come, but I received compliments so it helped a lot.” -Shadea

Pictured: Shadea

Pictured: Shadea





“I like my hair when it’s straight but has a little curl to the ends. That way, when I run my fingers through it, it gives the illusion that my hair is in layers without having to put the scissor anywhere close to it!” -Nathalie

Pictured: Nathalie

Pictured: Nathalie





“Although I love my natural hair, I love length and feel sexy with these extensions.” -Staci

Pictured: Staci

Pictured: Staci





“I absolutely love my hair short! It’s so much more manageable and healthy than when it is long.” -Candice


Pictured: Candice





“I love my hair nice and straight. It’s easy to maintain, and I get to show off it’s natural length.” -Desiree

Pictured: Desiree

Pictured: Desiree





“I love this style because it’s got movement and gives me that feeling of ‘I’m so worth it!'” -Monique

Pictured: Monique

Pictured: Monique





“I like this style because it allows me to rock my hair in it’s natural state and be comfortable with who I am.” -Karen

Pictured: Karen

Pictured: Karen





“I like my hair in this style because it gives me more of a naturally classy look” -Racquel 

Pictured: Racquel

Pictured: Racquel





“My go-to hairstyle is the twisty fro. It best represents my true nature: unruly and all over the place. Most people just think it’s cool.” -Lisa

Pictured: Lisa

Pictured: Lisa








So what’s your favorite style? Let me know in the comments section below!


Black Women and Natural Hair: Trend or Hair to Stay?

As women, hair is super important. (Who wants a bad hair day amirite, ladies?) But as black women, our  hair is way more politicized.

My info graphic

SOURCE for my info graphic: USA TODAY

There is something to be said about a woman who walks confidently down the street with a huge curly fro versus the woman who wears her hair “fried, dyed, and laid to the side,” which refers to boring, over processed, and damaged hair.

That’s not to throw shade at black women who chemically straighten their hair, it’s to draw attention to the ways in which our identities, like it or not, are tied to the way we wear our hair.

For instance, when my hair is out in a huge curly fro or in some other natural hair style like braids or twists, suddenly it’s not “excuse me, miss,” it’s “excuse me, sister.” And when I’m walking down the street in one of these styles, I’m stopped by young black women and older black women alike, either to compliment my hair or to ask which technique I used to achieve that look.

There’s no new information as to how many black women have gone natural in 2012 and 2013, but I surmise it’s growing because just from 2010 to 2011, there has been at 10% increase in the amount of black women who has left the “creamy crack” behind according to a study conducted by research firm Mintel and publicized by USA Today.

Black women are at a place now where we are re-learning our hair after decades (post 70’s fros) of mass processing of our hair. Still, the good hair/ bad hair dichotomy is one that carries a scathing level of insecurities in the black community.

According to author Cheryl Thompson in Black Women and Identities: What’s Hair Got to do With It?, black women and hair goes back to slaveholding days. 

She writes:

“In 15th century Africa, hairstyles were used to indicate a person’s marital status, age, religion, ethnic identity, wealth and rank within the community (see Byrd & Tharps, 2001; Jacobs-Huey, 2006; Mercer, 1994; Patton, 2006; Rooks, 1996). Once enslaved, hair became more a matter of the labour one was forced to do. For instance, field slaves often hid their hair, whereas house slaves had to wear wigs similar to their slave owners, who also adorned wigs during this period . . .

“For young black girls, hair is not just something to play with, it is something that is laden with messages, and it has the power to dictate how others treat you, and in turn, how you feel about yourself. As Rooks (1996) affirms, “Hair in 1976 spoke to racial identity politics as well as bonding between African American women. Its style could lead to acceptance or rejection from certain groups and social classes, and its styling could provide the possibility of a career” (p. 5-6).”

Chemically straightened hair, wigs, and weaves, like it or not, are ways of subscribing to Eurocentric standards of beauty. This natural hair trend where more black women are embracing their curls, coils, kinks, naps, locks, tresses or whatever you’d like to call it, is one that affirms our confidence in ourselves. It tells the world that we are proud of our looks, and that we define us.

Click Here for Part 2 of this series, where I speak to three black women about their hair stories.



Vice Vs Buzzfeed: Video Content

Vice and Buzzfeed, two media outlets that serve young audiences, both have distinct video styles.

Buzzfeed’s videos, like their articles, are published based on how “shareable” the content is. “Shareability” of content and the likelihood of going viral is a Buzzfeed staple. They pride themselves in having “the hottest, most social content on the web,” according to their tagline.

The videos that Buzzfeed publish are often lighthearted and funny, like “11 Celebrity Dopplegangers That Will Make Your Heart Melt,” or “How to Barf, Puke, Vomit in Space,” in which an expert shows the Buzzfeed audience how exactly an astronaut regurgitates billions of miles from Earth.

One of Buzzfeed’s most popular videos was “Drunk v Stoned,” where a Buzzfeed staffer got really wasted one night, then really stoned another night as an experiment to find out which one would allow him to function better doing trivial things like drawing and dancing. The video currently has over 3 million views on YouTube. Their videos are usually short and concise, ranging from one and a half minutes to three minutes.

On the other hand, Vice, a site for the “smart hipster,” is known for their original documentaries. Their videos are more concerned with the human condition, social issues and politics. Their “Young Americans” series focused on topics like socializing, LGBT, and body image.

Vice also got a lot of attention for their fearless reporting in other countries like Iran, Afghanistan, and most notably, Liberia. Vice journalists, with their guide, captured the civil war in Liberia complete with interviews with rebels and the community. A Vice documentary on cannibals in Liberia is 53 minutes long and currently has over 4 million views on YouTube. Vice’s videos can range from 7 minutes to over an hour, depending on the topic.

Both Buzzfeed and Vice get views ranging from hundreds of thousands into the millions mark. They both promote their videos on their social media pages, like Twitter.


What it takes to get a winning shot

The following photo appeared as a top story on Oct. 7 in Hunts Point Express for an article entitled: “‘Reverend’ Billy preaches for sustainability.”

Photo Credit and Description by: Erin Brodwin. "Hunts Point, Bronx, New York - Reverend Billy Tales sings about changing consumer habits to encourage people to stop damaging the Earth at the wetland restoration project in Hunts Point, the Bronx, New York on Saturday, October 5, 2013."

Photo Credit and Description by: Erin Brodwin. “Hunts Point, Bronx, New York – Reverend Billy Tales sings about changing consumer habits to encourage people to stop damaging the Earth at the wetland restoration project in Hunts Point, the Bronx, New York on Saturday, October 5, 2013.”

It took over 300 shots to capture this photo of Billy Talen, an activist who has adopted the stage name “Reverend Billy.”

To get this particular shot, freelance science and health reporter, Erin Brodwin said:

“I was crouching in a big weedy plant at Rev. Billy’s feet.” 

Brodwin finds that “playing around” with different angles and where she places her body in relation to her subject usually gets her the best shot. This photo of Reverend Billy is called a low angle shot. This works for this type of photo because it usually makes the subject look powerful and authoritative. It also captures Rev. Billy’s personality, who according to Brodwin’s article, “loves to preach because ‘it’s singing and talking at the same time.'”

Brodwin’s shot also uses the rule of thirds. If the photo were divided into three accross vertical lines, we would see that Rev. Billy’s right hand meets the upper left division while his body remains in the middle. The left side of the photo is occupied by the “Earthalujah Choir” and the plant in the background. The man on the right and the plant balances the picture and completes the rule of thirds.

If the photo were divided into three accross horizonal lines, we could observe that the bottom space is occupied by the choir, the lower half of Rev. Billy’s body, and the plant along with the man’s torso. The middle space is occupied by the red and green plant, Rev. Billy’s body and arm, and the face of the man on the right. The top space is reserved for the beautiful red and green plant that is stretched out accross the wall. 

Brodwin has written articles that have appeared in Scientific American, Popular Science, City Limits, the Bronx Times, and Hunts Point Express. Follow her @erbrod.


My Media Diet: I do Consume more than Pastries in a Given Day, you know.


My alarm clock has been snoozed enough.

Which ever day of the week it is, it doesn’t matter because I have to get up, get dressed, and go do grown-up things.

Before I even brush my teeth though, I check my email because my beloved iPhone is laying right next to my head for convenience. (What? I know you do it too.)

What I wake up to.

I rather wake up to a meal from Ihop, but I consider this a solid second.

My inbox immediately gives me an account of some of the important things going on in the world. Because I write for LYVBH.com, the Editor in Chief sends out ‘News Article Suggestions’ every morning with Political, Entertainment, and Trending categories.

I often click through the links and skim through the articles before I get up.

I also get emails from Planned Parenthood and The Humans Rights Campaign. They both give me updates about whats going on with women’s reproductive rights and LGBTQ rights.

For instance, Planned Parenthood will update me if any bills are signed that threaten something like abortion rights anywhere in America. They will also provide me a link to sign a petition. The Human Rights Campaign will do that same– nowadays they’re sending updates about Russia’s anti-LGBT laws.

My next source of information comes from the TV. In an effort to look like I sort of have my life together, I iron my clothes while I watch News 12 Brooklyn. News 12 gives me the latest on weather, MTA, news, and crime. Once I know the L train has decent service, I’m out the door.

If I’m not frantically typing an assignment that’s due in like, 30 minutes, I grab an AMNY when I get off the L train at Union Square. AMNY has always been useful to me because it gives a great overview of the daily news. In fact, I learned about Trayvon Martin’s murder the morning after it happened from AMNY. Although at that time I had no idea that it would draw in such national attention. More recently, I enjoyed AMNY’s mayoral coverage because most nights, I would just decide to snuggle up with Netflix instead of watch the news for updates.

After class, I may write up a quick news article on LYVBH which means I’m linked to websites like Yahoo! and Huffington Post. I’ll probably spend 20 minutes reading up on other articles that catch my attention. If a video is attached to an article, I stream it if I think it will bring something else to the story that the article won’t.

On my way to the overpriced deli, I check Facebook on my iPhone while I curse myself for never bringing lunch. Besides succumbing to the amusement of people’s over-sharing, I always click a link to a story whether it was put up by a friend or by a online magazine. It doesn’t matter if it’s a story about Chick-fil-a being racist, terrible Tyler Perry movies, or the cutest puppy in the world.

Back at school, I spend time reading the articles on Jezebel. When I’ve run out of patience in a super boring lecture class, I check out Buzzfeed for some OMG HOW DO THEY KNOW MY LIFE!?

If it’s the weekend and I’m on the clock, I go through the opinions sections of publications like Politico or USA Today (via iPhone app) because it gives me ideas of what I can write about for my blog column on WBLS.

By 11pm, I’m over everything. Netflix is on and I have a pastry in my hand. It’s been a long day and I’ve basically earned it.



Slate V Salon: How These Online Mags Use Social Media

Slate and Salon, two popular online magazines, both have a strong following on their social media pages.

How do they attract readers through their online presence? Lets begin with Slate.

Slate’s twitter bio is:

“Politics, culture, technology, business, news, and commentary. Procrastinate better.”

Pretty convincing, right?

Definitely because they have 668.9K followers. That’s more than Mayor Bloomberg.

They have 54.6K tweets, and the great thing about them is that they’re conversational, attention-getting, and in a lot of cases, funny.

Salon, too has a great twitter bio.

“Providing fearless political journalism and cultural analysis since the dawn of the digital era. We’re also at http://www.facebook.com/salon

Sorry, Slate, I want to read fearless journalism. And also, Kudos to Salon for adding their Facebook link to their bios.

Salon has 306.3K followers (less than half that of Slate’s), but let’s measure their success in the level of awesome in their tweets.

Salon’s tweets are provoking, and you almost always want to click their links.

Both publications are conversational in their tone on twitter, but there is one big difference. Slate engages more with people and other publications because they retweet often, while Salon sticks to their own tweets.

Both Salon and Slate are decidedly more left slanted publications, but that’s okay because conservatives have The NY Post and Fox News.

Salon and Slate have 206.K and 362K likes on Facebook respectively. But just because they have more than 140 characters, doesn’t mean they always use it.

Nice headline, though.

Nice headline, though.

For example, Slate’s story about Pope Francis not being the ever-progressive pope we all want him to be is simply promoted as: “Cool” Pope is a myth. (Damn you, Slate. Wishful thinking.)

Salon, on the other hand, uses a bit more text on Facebook. This is not always the case, but they often end up quoting from the articles themselves. I rather not get a long quote, so in cases like these, I’m more inclined to click on Slate’s link on Facebook before Salon’s. On the upside though, Salon always has a thumbnail picture with their posts. Slate sporadically shifts between using large pictures and using no picture at all.

Besides the ever popular and necessary Facebook and Twitter presence, Salon is on Google+, Pinterest, and Tumblr, to name a few. Salon has a plugin on their website that links to their other pages. Slate only has Facebook and Twitter linked to their website, but after some extensive digging (okay not that much digging, but still annoying), I found Slate’s Pinterest.

Slate’s Pinterest is geared towards their more artsy readers, which makes sense because Pinterest is a more visual outlet. Good thinking, Slate.

For instance, their boards feature their own Slate Illustrations, Recipes *drool*, and their favorite Books. Their boards link to actual Slate articles.

Salon’s tumblr features tons of large pictures, but they keep their posts more general rather than centered on a theme. Their posts also link to the full articles on their site.

Slate and Salon don’t ask their readers many questions, but their headlines and descriptors are enough for readers to comment, like, and/or retweet their links.