Dominique of “Bfly by Design” uses hair extensions to create stunning portraits of Black women’s unique hairstyles.
In the clip above, you’ll see Dominique weaving hair extensions into a painting. She braids the hair into a lovely cornrow pattern before adorning it with butterfly embellishments. The stunning result is a portrait that feels both surreal and lifelike at the same time.
Dominique’s work showcases the breathtaking beauty of Black hairstyles, which have often been stigmatized as unattractive or unhirable — an issue that has proven prevalent to the point of legal intervention in some states. In 2019, New York Governor Andrew Cuomo took action on the problem and signed legistation banning discrimination against people with “natural hair or hairstyles,” the Hill reported.
Cornrows, a popular type of braid that dates back thousands of years, held deep meaning throughout Africa, where the style originated.
“A specific look could indicate the clan you belonged to, your marital status or your age,” according to Essence. “Hairstyles were passed down through the matriarchs of each generation — from grandmother to mother to daughter.”
When Black people were kidnapped from Africa and sold into slavery in the Americas, it changed how they wore their hair, Essence notes. Enslaved people, who were forced to shave their heads before boarding slave ships, were not allowed to express any connection to their cultures of origin. Thus, braided hairstyles became less intricate and ornamental for Black women and men who had no time or means to care for or express themselves amid deplorable living conditions.
In the ‘60s and ‘70s, the Black Power Movement inspired Black women to embrace their natural hair once more. Today, we see a plethora of Black braided hairstyles being celebrated every day.
Dominique’s work is a shining example of how far Black hair has come — finally, it is seen as art.
If you enjoyed this piece, then check out this embroidery artist who makes crazy cool craft jewelry.
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