Kink isn’t the average self-help book or even a natural hair journey memoir.
The UK-based ‘Curlture’ founders, Jay-Ann Lopez and Patrina Charles, could not have given this work a better title. The photography centers cocoa-skinned women with 4C hair, TWAs and dreadlocks—skin tones and hair types often under-celebrated in mainstream media. Most of us sport kinky, coarse hair, yet naturals with looser curl patterns are the images most often circulated on social media and in beauty ad campaigns. Through poetry and the striking photos, this book aims to make up for the lost love.
“Kink is for the girls whose skin is blessed with the deepest of secrets of existence,” one poem reads. “For the women whose kinks coil on themselves like flowers upon the arrival of dusk.”
The childhood friends, who affectionately refer to each other as Jay and Tri, have championed the texture discrimination fight since founding their blog platform in 2013. Still, Kink delves unapologetically deeper than simple hair talk.
“It’s about not being put into boxes,” says Tri, during a group Skype chat.
One of those boxes Kink seeks to destroy is that of the ‘strong woman’, which is why Tri took great care that the images would exude Black feminine strength but also vulnerability.
“The Black woman doesn’t always have to be so strong,” Jay chimes in. “There has to be a time for her to reflect. If she feels sad, it’s okay. That’s why, with the poetry, I wrote different pieces from different perspectives. It is important to get that across too—and of course, promote women feeling beautiful in their natural state.”
Reading the book, I got it.
“True self-acceptance cannot be achieved with accessories. I am stripping them off. One by one,” reads another poem. “If I feel confident only when I adorn myself in tresses that is not love. It is a survival mechanism.”
Kink honors the relationship Black women have with our hair. It is more than accumulations of dead skin cells and keratin to us. Our hair is a crown and a conversation. A scepter and shield. Sometimes, it can be our stronghold.
The book delves into this complex subject because Black hair is too political not to. From what it means when we wear weaves to who has the audacity to pitch invasive inquiries about our choices in the first place. To the nakedness and liberation that comes with the big chop. To debating your next hair color selection while weighing your job and what people around you might say.
Accepting your inner and outer beauty is important to document. Word to the #CarefreeBlackGirl, #BlackGirlMagic and #FlexinMyComplexion hashtags. But finding yourself between that liberation and a hard place is another journey worth acknowledging. It ain’t all exquisite twist-outs and middle fingers to corporate America all the time. I can always appreciate self-acceptance banter that keeps it real about that.
Kink invites readers to accept all parts of this journey. To remember that even in the darkest, weakest moments on the road to loving yourself in your natural state—your melanin is still popping AF.
“Dear Black woman. Divinity needs no accessory. You are beautiful. Just. As. You. Are. Yours, naturally. Two Black women.”
I feel that. Pick up Kink.