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Goddess Of Hair Sculpture: Laetitia Ky’s Tale Though The Curls

Art and artist are like one body, one soul. Art initially required a pen or paper to sketch it out. With time, art could be made out of anything possible. For Laetitia Ky, it just took her tripod and her hair. Yes, you read that right, her hair. You are probably thinking about how strange this could be well; it is fascinating to see how art can flow though anything anytime, and if you do it well, social media pulls you in. Laetitia Ky, reminds of the saying “you’re a work of art”. She used her outrageously long hair like a machine that can unfold hair art design.

Born and raised in Abidjan, Ivory Coast, Laetitia Ky, came across photos of hairstyle by a pre-colonial African woman which was her inspiration. She was zapped by the kind of creativity used with an essential ingredient for the hair. There was also a sense of realisation that struck her. It was in her zeal to experiment and try new things out that she thought of giving hair sculptures a fair shot with a distinct twist. In the vast changing world she is creating something extraordinary.

Most Africans are famous for their different styles of hair braiding. Such techniques have been very popular in a lot of TV series and movies. On these platforms, people not only experiment with stories and attires of the characters, but invest a good time on their hair do’s. Is there any character in a TV show you can connect to because of their hairstyle? Let us know in the comments section.

Netflix’s original movie, β€œNappily Ever After” is about a black family, who in order to fit into social code of conduct, needed straight and smooth hair. The protagonist, Violet – is scared of the weather condition and hates all things humid, wakes up at 5am only to set her hair up right. She is stuck between trying to look perfect and yet not being happy. Nappily Ever After goes into the psyche of a woman which is linked to her appearance. Violet was surprised to watch the hairdresser’s daughter, Zoe, moving around with her curls and not being bothered and even scorns at her for having curls. Zoe subtly reminds Violet what a waste of money parlors and hairdressing could be since the same amount could sponsor a black child’s education. Midway through the movie, Violet both embraces her bold self and reminds Zoe that she is perfect. By the end of the movie she is liberated though the burden of representing societal standards and has finally reached the hill of happiness as she takes a swim.

As much as we enjoy looking and admiring these different hairstyles on screen, it is still taboo for Africans to have kinky hairstyles. But, irrespective of the stereotypical thinking, Laetitia Ky goes back to her roots and flaunts them without hesitation. The postcolonial phase brought about several changes, one of them was to have “straight hair”. It has been entirely a journey of realisation to grow her natural hair back. Ky’s road to success was the easiest, but as easy as it sounds, it was very challenging.

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Ky stood by the vision of African beauty, though it was submerged under postcolonial aesthetic tradition, she voiced her opinion though hair sculpture. Initially, she used her hair as an experimental form of art, but gradually she figured the massive influence she could have if she tapped upon social issues. She draws attention to the power of black women’s hair and spins the anti-black axis of beauty standards. She breaks through mainstream representations of beauty constructs that are loaded with different ideas. She turned her hair into pop art. She is a big fan of Rihanna so much that she carved her as a hair pop up experiment.

Sex education, a Netflix original, makes you see through the character of Eric even more deeply when he embraces himself as he is seen dressing up in bright colours and fits into in female costumes. It is when beautiful masculinity lies unappreciated and unaccepted by society that Eric has to hide his fondness of dressing up while simultaneously having a gender identity crisis. But the question is how long can hidden stories stay in the attic?

“Self Made” is yet another movie inspired by Madam J.C Walker. She believed “Wonderful hair leads to wonderful opportunity” “Hair is beauty. Hair is power.” Madam CJ was the first black woman millionaire in America. She made hair products suitable just for black hair and it was clear she experimented the products on her own hair. Not only was she helping black women to be financially independent, she also brought upliftment in the belief system and fought against taboos.

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I was born and raised in Africa, in Ivory Coast. And even if I always knew what racism was, it's only very late in my life that I was confronted to it. And again I lived it in its sweetest forms. Many times I have been afraid for my life because I am a woman, but never because I am black. But all over the world people who look like me die unjustly, are imprisoned unjustly, are mistreated, discriminated in all aspects of life just for their skin color. This does not happen only in the United States. Adama a young 24 year old man was killed in france by a police officer and his last words was the same as George Floyd "i cant breath"… Violence against black people, murder of my people happen in every non black country… enough is enough. I have big dream that go further than the borders of my country. Now im afraid to die while i will be abroad chasing my dream just cause im black. It shouldnt be one of my scare. I am a woman and i will never stop fighting for women rights BUT IM ALSO BLACK and from now i will fight like one. #BLACKLIVESMATTER

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Ky has been seen doing similar work. Her first social work was on mental health. She also portrayed a piece for UN’s UN’s International Day of Zero Tolerance for Female Genital Mutilation. She styled her hair into a clitoris to bring to light the harsh realities of offensive practices. She is a big fan of Rihanna so much that she carved her as a hair pop up experiment. Recently, she used hair sculptures to protest against the black lives matter movement. What are your views on such hair experiments? Which of Ky’s hair sculptures could you relate to the most?

Matthew Cherry has both directed and written a six-minute animated short film called “Hair love”. It deals with the struggle a black father undergoes to set his daughter’s lengthy and curly hair. The film centres around the concept of appreciating and loving one’s natural hair. The simple story line leaves a volume of message for the black community. It is a story of acceptance and about a family where the father takes extra effort fighting against the odds just to set up the perfect hair for his daughter. The story aims to reach out to DeAndre Arnold, a teen from Texas who was suspended from school for his dreadlocks. What would you feel like to be suspended for having straight hair?

 

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