“Hair is just hair.”
Leeds-based artist Selina Thompson opened the London leg of her new interactive performance piece Dark & Lovely with this stark revelation. Dark & Lovely examines what it means to be a Black British woman and how the politics of hair have a part to play in our identity.
Standing outside a giant ‘tumbleweave’ home, built from abandoned weaves and leftover hair extensions, Thompson beams and smiles in a shoulder length weave and a silk dressing gown. She welcomes the audience to come closer to her as she hands out rum punch and repeats, “Hair is just hair”; that dismissive phrase black women hear so often from others. You see hair is never just hair for black women, and Thompson knows this all too well. She details the times in her life when friends joked about her hair, made her feel lesser, cheapened or not worthy. Black women’s hair is never just hair.
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