Hair Stories

From an early age I understood that hair had power. At the age of 7, my own two ponytails were chopped off very unceremoniously and for a good part of my childhood I sported a boy’s haircut from which I probably never fully recovered. The trauma of losing control of my identity has stayed with me my entire life. For my project Hair Stories, I interviewed and photographed almost three dozen women about their hair. These women represented a diverse group of ages (14 to 100) and ethnicities. The leading question was “Tell me about your hair.” What I discovered is that hair is a language, a shield, and a trophy. Hair is a construct reflecting our identity, history, femininity, personality, our innermost feelings of self-doubt, aging, vanity, and self-esteem. Hair also has deep sociological roots. It can be indicative of a certain religious or political belief system and like its genetic code, is complicated and touches our very core. The photographs in this series were inspired by the personal stories and histories of the subjects and created in their home environments. From my experience as a neurologist, I utilized the interviewing skills gleaned from medical training and the women’s oral narratives were transcribed and excerpted for written and audio clips. Hair Stories reflects that hair is more than just style or aesthetics; it is a physical manifestation of the history of women. Every participant had her own unique connection to her hair (or the absence of it) and her own story, whether it was an association from childhood or a way of caring for or presenting her hair, yet there were many similarities in the language they used and the feelings expressed. The overall collective voice confirmed that hair is important and is best understood as a meaningful mirror of identity and often evolves, just as we do. Buy Hair Stories Book

Please visit my Womens Hair Stories Website for the complete series, audio excerpts and more!

I think I will always have long hair. It is kind of like my shield. It's a cover up from being judged by others.

People were always coming up to me and wanting to touch my hair.My mom kept my hair really long and severe with bangs. It was like a cape. I used to resent the comments because I felt like it covered up people's interest in who I really was. My ego was centered around my intelligence. For people to comment on my hair made me feel like they weren't taking me seriously.

Dreadlocks aren't just hair. They become a part of you. Your hair is literally a part of your soul. 

I used to be what they call a dirty blonde, but now it's white. 

Hair is actually a HUGE identifier for me. I am an old punk rocker. Hair was how we expressed ourselves. We shaved our heads. We did it funny colors. It was kind of one of those things that identified our difference. You know, I felt different on the inside for so very long and didn’t fit in no matter how much I tried– I have actually cut my hair to try to fit in. I have actually tried to make myself look more like the people around me, thinking that that would connect me in some way and when I cut the hair off it actually was very freeing. It was like, no, this IS me. I’m strange; my hair is strange. It was kind of like one of those, yeah, this is me. If you’re going to hate me, you’re going to hate me. You’re not going to hate me for who you think I am or for who I’m pretending to be to please you.

The pink has been the most successful. I love pink anyway but people treat me different when I have pink hair.  It’s very welcoming. It’s almost as if the color itself draws people.

I like being free. I hate being inhibited. 

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