Black Hair is political

Black Hair is cultural

Black Hair is part of the identity.


With "Penumbra" Charmaine de Heij questions the role of Black Hair in Western society and the relationship to the self. She gives the viewer an insight into the politics of Black Hair and aims to strengthen people with Black Hair in their cultural identity and self-image.

Coming from a mixed family, Charmaine has personally experienced Black Hair as an identity-forming feature but also as a sign of exclusion.

With Penumbra Charmaine examines her personal background as well as the history of Black Hair and the role of colonization in order to visually portray an issue that is still controversial and relevant in modern society.


Black hair as a complex history coming from slavery. Light-skinned slaves were preferred to dark-skinned slaves and straight hair was preferred over Afro.
Afro had to be hidden. Products for the hair were suppressed.
Western society saw Black Hair as something animalistic, a fur. By taking the identity of the hair from the slaves, they became dehumanized.
Black Hair became an object, even today hand are reached in Black hair as if it is a rabbit or a cat.

This policy left a mark on modern society. Black Hair became a social stigma that developed into a political statement and a symbol of freedom, particularly through the civil rights movement in the USA, and was reversed.
Caucasian beauty standards still control our perception of beauty. Even the visual media do not support natural hair and this creates social control.

This project is made for representation, recognition, education and to start a conversation.


Black Hair now has manifest beauty, being in control, power, and identity. It a message to self-esteem and towards society.

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