I’m always fascinated by Black men who choose to wear relaxed hair. In the African American community, straightened hair is gendered in the same way skirts and high heels are gendered, and Black men who wear relaxed hair (or straight hair weaves, for that matter) are often doing so as part of an expression of their embrace of femininity and the body rituals associated with feminine gender performance. In other contexts, though, straightened hair on Black men serves as a mark of hypermasculine sartorial excess. Think Snoop Dogg in Shirley Temple curls in the 1999 music video for Dr. Dre’s “The Next Episode.”
Whether deployed in the service of femininity or masculinity, though, Black men’s adoption of straightened hair almost always exemplifies the classic Afro disaporic aesthetics of excess, and that in and of itself is worth capturing in this series of portraits.