The idea that natural, Afro-textured hair is “unprofessional” or “unkempt” if it is not manipulated into a state more in line with Eurocentric notions of what hair looks like has long been documented. Black women can find themselves out of a job for having dreadlocks — a style many prefer to keep their hair neat and tidy. Black girls in South Africa had to fight for the right to wear Afros in school — on the same continent where most of the native people have textured hair. The lengths some people go to in an attempt to suppress black men and women from embracing natural hairstyles would be laughable if it wasn’t so sad. Braids, locs, Afros, twists — even something as simple as wearing a head wrap, which many black women use to protect their fragile strands (or simply to show pride in their heritage) — are all considered offenses.
But for all the hate and debate that natural hair seems to get, there are also plenty of people who understand its coiled, kinky beauty. One such person is 18-year-old artist Prianka Bassi, aka @pricisionart, whose intricate drawing of an Afro puff has been retweeted more than 10,000 times. “To all the people who are told that their curly/kinky/nappy hair isn’t beautiful.. This one is for you,” she captioned a tweet that included two close-up images of her extremely detailed work.
To all the people who are told that their curly/kinky/nappy hair isn’t beautiful.. This one is for you ???? pic.twitter.com/JHXaHPvGP9
— Pubba (@pricisionart) September 18, 2016
The drawing puts curly tendrils on display, showing just how dynamic, textured, complex, and beautiful natural hair is. “The drawing took around 9-10 hours,” Bassi told Yahoo Beauty via direct message on Twitter. She says she got inspired to do the illustration after sharing her experience as an Indian girl with curly hair and realizing that women of color, specifically black women, faced similar prejudice about their tresses as she did.
“Growing up, I would always find my hair being compared to other Indian girls who had silky, smooth, straight hair. My hair was constantly braided, and I was always made to feel as if my natural hair wasn’t beautiful,” she said. “After a few years, I made new friends on Twitter who shared their experiences about their natural hair with me and how they were also made to feel as if their curls didn’t look as beautiful or ‘professional’ as straight hair, and how they had to relax and straighten their hair just to fit in the European image of perfect hair. I also discovered that many girls from different ethnic groups suffered with the same problem, especially the black community, who arguably suffer the most prejudice for their hair. I was, therefore, inspired by how all these ethnic women went through the same problem, not being able to love their natural hair, so I thought of creating a huge hair drawing with tightly, coiled curls in order to inspire and motivate people of different ethnicities, from different countries, and all races to love their natural hair and embrace the beauty we’re born with.”
Bassi actually drew the picture “about six or seven months ago,” and her aesthetic of deeply detailed artwork has already gotten her attention from online outlets. Even though this is an older work, Bassi says she felt compelled to share it again on September 18. “I noticed many women on my Twitter who still tweeted regularly about having to wear weave and braid/relax their hair, because they still don’t feel comfortable wearing their natural hair. I felt it was necessary to post the drawing to remind everyone that their natural hair is beautiful and no one should be made to feel as if they are not good enough,” she said, before noting that though she did draw Afro-textured hair, women of other races and ethnicities were able to identify with its message, as the discrimination and hatred of textured hair is deep and cross-cultural. “My drawing reached out to women of all ethnicities, proving how this is a problem across the world, not in just one small area. I also received many messages from people thanking me for inspiring them to embrace their curls, which made me feel really happy, as I didn’t think a small drawing could impact so many people.”
Bassi also revealed that even men have shown their appreciation. “I also had many men DM me about how they loved the drawing and could also relate to the same problems. It was a beautiful way of bringing all genders and ethnicities together to celebrate natural hair,” she said. The tweets on Bassi’s image are further proof of how deeply her work has touched and amazed people.
— dee (@possiblydee) September 20, 2016
@pricisionart THANK YOU!! THIS MEANS A LOT TO ME! Middle school me needed this!! I LOVE YOU!!
— House Stark (@amsehhh) September 20, 2016
@pricisionart my ? Is are you human I mean how did u do this?
— AlMyTi (@Lord_Taiye) September 18, 2016
@pricisionart It’s beautiful to see how something you’re truly gifted with can impact so many people.
So inspiring, Pri! ☺️
— ㅤ (@peterryano) September 20, 2016
you could color all that in ???????????? THIS IS SO BEAUTIFUL https://t.co/YMwD8qYkLG
— nug ♡ (@rowbrinaa) September 20, 2016
Bassi will attend Middlesex University in London to study sociology and criminology this fall – we hope she will continue to produce brilliant works of art when she’s not studying.