i-D Hair Week is an exploration of how our hairstyles start conversations about identity, culture, and the times we live in.

13 new york creatives tell their unique hair stories

Yes they look cool, but more importantly these restless youth have striking visions for their hair and their lives.

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Jun 23 2017, 9:55pm

i-D Hair Week is an exploration of how our hairstyles start conversations about identity, culture, and the times we live in.

Name: Amy Lefevre
Age: 20
Occupation: model
Where are you from? Senegal (west Africa)
Tell your hair story.
Back in Africa, everything about a person's identity could be learned by looking at the hair. This is why hair is important today; it identifies who we are as a person.
How is your hairstyle related to your gender?
Since I was little I always loved long hair, it made me feel pretty and feel good about myself. To me having long extensions helps me feel like I am a woman.
Do you use hair to express yourself?
I use my hair to express how I feel. If my hair is all done up, it shows character, it shows how I carry myself.
Why is hair important/unimportant?
Hair is important to me because it is part of my culture. I grew up having Senegalese twists, and other types of braids.

Name: Payton Long
Age: 21
Occupation: music producer/model
Where are you from? Austin, Texas
Tell your hair story.
My hair has bothered me all my life. I'm mixed (half black and half white), so I've never been able to pull it off and be comfortable wearing most of the styles I see. I went through periods of having it super short to picking it out to doing absolutely nothing until I found a middle ground with what it is now.
Do you use hair to express yourself?
Of course, I like to look exactly like what I am. The first thing people say to me is, "You must be a music guy." it keeps things simple.
Why is hair important/unimportant?
It tells stories if you let it. 

Name: Anna Grace
Age: 27
Occupation: hospitality and communications
Where are you from? Cape Cod
How is your hairstyle related to your gender?
When I shaved my head for the first time after college, I struggled a lot with finding my femininity again without hair. It was humbling to see how heavily I depended on my long hair to feel attractive. I now see other women with short hair (by choice or not) as forces to be reckoned with.
How is your hairstyle related to your creativity?
With Alopecia Aerata, spots are constantly coming and going, creating changing patterns on my scalp. I'm able to be creative in finding new playful ways to style my hair with what remains. Over the years, I've experimented with so many looks (including wigs) and it's felt like a social experiment on how people experience me based on my hair. It's truly incredible how freely people provide their feedback and how diversely I've been perceived.
Depending on where you are in the world and the social climate, the importance and value of hair shifts. Some people assume I have cancer, others think I'm a rebel. The most difficult aspect of the condition is not being in control. I didn't ask to be part of this conversation but I'm so thankful for the lessons it has a provided me. I've found the more I love and respect myself as I am, the more capable I am of pouring out love on everyone around me. I'm reminded daily of how fragile our condition is and it simply makes me smile. All we have is now.

Name: Skyler Hawkins
Age: 19
Occupation: model
Where are you from? Texas 
Tell your hair story.
I've done everything from blue to black, red to blonde, and even bleaching my eyebrows. Now living in NYC at 19 I feel so free and am more willing to express myself through my hair than ever.
How is your hairstyle related to your gender?
I don't like to label myself to a specific gender. I'm constantly changing and so is my hair.
Do you use hair to express yourself?
Since middle school I have constantly changed my hair color and style to express myself in my conservative Texas surroundings. In school I was labeled as the "gay kid" simply based off the fact I wasn't afraid to express myself and show my true identity. And hair has always been a way for me to do that.
How often do you change your hair?
At least once a month.

Name: Ocean Waring
Age: 19
Occupation: model/artist
Where are you from? NYC (Born in Harlem, raised in Brooklyn)
How is your hairstyle related to your creativity?
My hair defines my creative nature, it's free forming and always changing but if it needs to be focused into something, it can be done. This resonates because of the art classes I started taking earlier during the month of May. As free as my hair is, is as free as I feel when I draw.
Do you use hair to express yourself?
Not really. I'm honestly not the most expressive person, verbally or otherwise. Being that I am very introverted in nature my hair does the talking for me, I'd also find it to be a random conversational piece with compliments from strangers.
Why is hair important/unimportant?
Hair is a very important yet subtle staple in people's lives. It's not always the first thing people worry about in terms of overall health but it does help play a role in helping many people define themselves and who they truly feel they are inside.

Name: Bryan McCartney
Age: 25
Occupation: graphic designer and model
Where are you from? Texas
Tell your hair story.
I've been growing my hair for the past four and a half years and haven't cut it at all during that time. It's somewhat of a tradition for the men in my family to grow their hair out when they are young so I'm kind of trying to keep that trend going. I've gotten pretty attached to it now and can't see myself going back to short hair anytime soon.
How is your hairstyle related to your gender?
I don't feel that one's hairstyle is a defining characteristic of gender necessarily, and I don't feel like having long hair makes someone any less masculine. I'm comfortable enough with myself to do my own thing and not worry about how others will perceive me.
How is your hairstyle related to your creativity?
Having long hair is somewhat symbolic of my pursuit of a non-traditional career path and outlook on life. I'm a visual person by nature and my hair is an extension of the type of work I'm trying to make as a creative.
Do you use hair to express yourself?
I let my hair speak for itself as a reflection of me as a person.

Name: Olivia Burgess
Age: 24
Occupation: dancer, model, actress, freelance photographer, holistic nutritionist in training
Where are you from? Born in Paris, France and grew up in Washington, DC.
Tell your hair story.
As a kid I had no idea how to manage my hair. In an effort to keep me from ripping it all out, my mom eventually started relaxing it. It did in fact make things a lot easier for me especially since I was constantly having to whisk it up into a ballet bun. Around my sophomore year of college, I realized that I had no idea what my "real hair" looked like. I wasn't sure if I would like it but I decided that one way or another I had to find out. My hair was half way down my back when I finally built up the courage to chop it all off. In the end it was one of the best decisions I've ever made!
How is your hairstyle related to your creativity?
I've been learning as I go ever since going natural. Some of my favorite styles to rock are the ones that happened by accident when I was getting creative! 

Name: Chris Gold
Age: 23
Occupation: I'm an artist, singer-songwriter, and producer. I write pop/R&B/soul and create art.
Where are you from? Toronto, Canada
Tell your hair story.
I was eighteen when I began developing my hairstyle. I had trouble finding the right hairstylist and would always leave the salon with the urge to do more. I decided one day that I would do my hair the way I wanted and bought my own set of hair clippers. One mistake turned into a completely new look and I had created it. When I saw myself in the mirror I felt a big change. It felt symbolic as I was still discovering who I was and fighting for my own identity. It was a part of my rebellion.
How is your hairstyle related to your creativity?
My hair is a constant reminder to stay true to myself and to promote individuality. 

Name: Jimi Lucid
Age: 23
Occupation: musician
Where are you from? Washington D.C.
Tell your hair story.
When I was seven I had cancer. The chemotherapy left me completely hairless. As I watched my hair fall off, I no longer could identify myself. I felt like a shadow of my normal self. I felt totally foreign in the world and totally unrecognizable.
How is your hairstyle related to your creativity?
Everything I wear is somewhat of a smorgasbord of influences from art, film, and music. My hair is just another way for me to express myself and show the world that I am whatever I put my mind, body, and soul into being.
Do you use hair to express yourself?
I use my hair to show how I feel, and the vibes I want to attract.
Why is hair important/unimportant?
I think hair is a very powerful thing, and often I feel it to be very spiritual. It also connects me to others who have similar hair texture. My hair is something that makes me proud to be myself and proud of my ancestors. I also hate hair cuts, I feel more tuned in with the world and myself when my hair is longer.

Name: Kara
Age: 28
Occupation: teacher
Where are you from? Long Island
Tell your hair story.
There isn't really one. I went pink last week because I was bored of 28 years of long, straight, black hair. Until recently, my hair and I have merely coexisted.
Do you use hair to express yourself?
To a certain extent. But I really just went pink because I wanted to change things up. I actually think I'm much more than my hair.
Why is hair important/unimportant?
I've always respected the importance and history of hair to different cultures and movements- but for my own personal experience, it's always been just... hair on my head. (I totally understand that this sentiment may come from a position of privilege as an Asian American woman in NYC.) However, my previous ambivalence about my hair has turned into a mild irritation. After years of living in NYC, no one had ever approached me about my appearance. In the past seven days, however, several people have asked to photograph me, from professional fashion photographers to a tourist family. "I just love your look!" they said, or, "You look so exotic!" Now I guess I'm supposed to think about how hair can incite important conversations about the owner's identity and culture, but all I can be is impatient with the sudden attention. Hair is an outward expression of myself, yes, but I'm much more than my hair. My hair is unrelated to my cultural identity, political ideology, musical tastes, or occupation; I just dyed it pink because I was bored. I'm the same person I was last week, when I had "normal" hair and when the weather was cool enough to wear long sleeves that covered my tattoos. Did people love my look then, or was I not "exotic" enough for them?

Name: Kyle Gayle
Age: 26
Occupation: model, stylist
Where are you from? Baltimore
Tell your hair story.
Hair is life! Well, mine is. I like putting things in my hair that some people normally would never think twice to do. Sometimes I tie belts or wire around my hair. This shit takes time and every day someone wants to touch it. Nothing annoys me more.
How is your hairstyle related to your gender?
When I wear my hair up I feel like it's me embracing my feminine side. I'm taking a risk doing some shit I wouldn't normally do, but it feels right. But when my hair is down I feel so savage.
How is your hairstyle related to your creativity?
Everything I do is art at this point. I believe my hair has gotten me so many creative job opportunities. I have a lit aesthetic. My hair gets me brownie points.

Name: Rhea
Occupation: rapper/singer
Where are you from? Chicago
Tell your hair story.
I've always been inspired by cartoons when it comes to my colorful hair. If I wore my hair to appeal and win the approval of guys then my superpowers would be limited and I'll be stuck making sandwiches. Now I'm rocking faux goddess dreads; I feel like Medusa.
How is your hairstyle related to your creativity?
I do my hair myself, so it's all me. It's a process. For years, my hair was a conversation starter. Good and bad response from people. Great artists trigger emotions, good or bad. Hair is art too. 

Name: Jordan Shelwood
Age: 19
Occupation: film student
Where are you from? California
Tell your hair story.
From cornrows to flattops, box-braids, and buzz cuts, my hair has been an ever changing asset to complete my identity and my look. Growing up, my hair attracted a lot of attention from my white classmates. One year in elementary school, during overnight camp, the kids in my cabin stared in confusion as I combed out my afro with my metal wire pick. Then in middle school, kids damn-near lined up to rub my freshly buzzed skull. In high school my kinky locks were compared to pubic hair. I'm sure many black people can relate to those situations. I don't think anybody else could understand the experience that is black hair, it's one-of-a-kind. But despite all of that I feel great about my hair. I feel free to express myself however I want with it. It's empowering to know that my hair is so unique and special.
How is your hairstyle related to your creativity?
I love color. Color inspires all of my art. In school I was never able to have "unnaturally colored" hair so I took full advantage once I graduated and immediately dyed my hair purple. Since then I've experimented with tons of colors.

Credits


Photography Alex Black
Text Amanda Picotte