We love a good hair story – especially when it has a powerful message behind it. Photographer Medina Dugger is giving us just that with a vibrant new series of images celebrating the rich history and beauty of braided hairstyles.
Entitled “Chroma: An Ode to J.D. ‘Okhai Ojeikere,” Medina was inspired by the late Nigerian photographer J.D. Ojeikere who captured black/white images of more than 1,000 different hairstyles during his lifetime. Medina has reimagined those works in bright color, taking color cues from hair trends in Lagos, Nigeria. She teamed with hairstylist Ijeoma Christopher, who created dozens of styles — including blue bantu knots, pink flower braids and emerald green beehives — while also delving into the history behind each look.
“African hair braiding methods date back thousands of years and Nigerian hair culture is a rich and often extensive process which begins in childhood,” said Medina in a statement. “Hairdos range from being purely decorative to conveying deeper, more symbolic understandings, revealing social status, age and tribal/family traditions.”
The series is also a powerful response to mainstream’s consistent theft and appropriation of African-inspired culture.
“Black women’s hair remains a political topic around the world, one that many continue to be ignorant, insensitive, and offensive about,” Medina told Refinery29 in a recent interview. “The western-centric gaze is pervasive, oppressive and institutionalized, both overtly and subliminally. Chroma aims to celebrate the beauty of Nigerian hair design.”
Click through to check out more images from the ongoing series.