Thanks to social media, lovers of natural hair have an endless number of forums to celebrate the beauty of their locks, braids and curls. One only has to search the hashtags #NaturalHair or #TeamNatural to be inundated with a stream of natural hair selfies and haircare tips.
As wonderful as the web is, there’s something special about seeing that beauty represented in print. Instead of liking or favorite-ing or reblogging, you can post a real photo up on your fridge, your cubicle wall or display a magazine on your coffee table. It becomes a tactile part of your life instead of being lost to the ephemerality of the Internet.
Flipping through a typical magazine, readers are frequently confronted with glossy pages of Euro-centric hair. Why shouldn’t black natural hair get the same glamour treatment?
That’s what motivated entrepreneur Lindsey Day and her partner Nkrumah Farrar to co-found CRWN, a quarterly print magazine that worships the beauty of black women’s hair with striking and vibrant visuals. CRWN’s “zero issue”—launched at Afropunk Brooklyn—is a sneak peek at what the full issue will include, featuring beautiful photo spreads, provocative commentary and lifestyle tips. Through the content, CRWN hopes to tell the world “the truth about black women by showcasing a new standard of beauty and documenting our story in tangible, print form.”
The “zero issue” was self-funded, but subsequent issues will be sustained by advertorials and subscriptions. And even though print publications for general audiences appear to be in decline, niche and speciality print magazines are having a bit of a renaissance. The readership is smaller, but usually more dedicated, and for a subject like natural hair, the audience is there.
Day believes that “every black woman has a story about hair.” Day’s own mother decided to stop chemically straightening her hair after surviving breast cancer and has gone natural ever since. That inspired Day to learn about other black women’s hair journeys and make a publication that was “smart and disruptive.” All of the magazine’s photography is done in-house and all of the “naturalistas” featured are everyday people, not models.
Day told the Ms. Blog:
There was a void when it came to publications that were really celebrating and edifying black women. So many publications are out there to do the opposite, to tear us down and tell us we need this type of hair or we need to be skinnier or our noses should be smaller. We wanted to celebrate the diversity, the uniqueness and the beauty we naturally have. We really want to reclaim the narrative, one that has existed online but hasn’t really been reflected and immortalized in a print publication.
In a cultural milieu where everyone from school administrators to TSA agents thinks they can tell women and girls of color that the hair that naturally grows out of their heads is abnormal, the goals of CRWN become even more needed. With the simple slogan, “we want to tell your hairstory,” CRWN is resetting the public dialogue of what having “good hair” means.
Photo credits: Nkrumah Farrar