I’ve been following the controversy and backlash surrounding Kendrick’s Lamar’s music video for Humble, namely the issues with the lyrics ‘show me something natural like afro on Richard Pryor’ and the video scene featuring a model who, despite being a beautiful, natural and curly lady, has hair nothing like Richard Pryor’s afro whatsoever. You can see the Kendrick Lamar video 'Humble' video here.
I’ve read lots of different opinions on this debate, but the most articulate summary, in my opinion, can be found in the article Kendrick Lamar's 'Humble' and the Erasure of Black Women's Bodies and Voices on the blog Zizzi's Wardrobe. Go read it. She speaks from the heart.
Following her post, Zizzi and I actually carried on the discussion and both came to the conclusion that it’s the casting directors who are to blame here, as well as the artist for allowing his powerful words to be manipulated in such a way.
For the record, I’m of mixed race with long hair. Zizzi is darker than me, with the cutest teeny weeny afro at the moment. So in terms of representation, we’re pretty much covering the spectrum of this debate and share the same opinion which is that it’s high time the industry changed its beauty standards.
As Zizzi concluded in our conversation, “for the most part, the kind of girls who fit the description in Kendrick’s lyrics can’t even get their foot in the casting room” and it’s to that end that, rather than chastise the model who was chosen and berate her moment, I want to shine a light on some of my favourite afro hair models who do fit the description in those lyrics and coulda, woulda, shoulda been considered for that line of the song...
Would you just look at Nikia and her resplendent afro please? Stunning. I follow Nikia avidly on Instagram and I love it when she goes 'live' on there - more please Nikia! She talks about many thought provoking topics. She also runs BlackGirlBeautiful.com and a very fitting quote from the site is “Our textured hair is worthy of adoration. Beauty is not defined by the colour of one’s skin but the way darker skinned women are left out of mainstream conversations about beauty, you’d think just the opposite… Black Girl Beautiful celebrates our melanin, our bodies, our kinky and curly hair and our graceful spirit.’ WORD. Follow Nikia Phoenix on Instagram
Karly Loyce made history in her debut runway show for Celine autumn/winter 2015, by simply wearing her hair as nature intended. And I just love the campaign she did for them. So natural, so beautiful, pretty much everything Kendrick speaks about in Humble. Follow Karly Loyce on Instagram
Born in Jamaica, raised in Northern England (YES GIRL!) Alana was scouted in a shopping centre at the age of 15. According to models.com, ‘Having racked up quite the e-commerce client base with shoots for Topshop and editorial for Elle and Vogue Italia among others, this girl is ready to stir it up!’ Follow Alana Henry on Instagram
This is the model who posted an Instagram photo of herself alongside fellow models Maria Borges and Jourdana Phillips from backstage the Victoria Secret show in 2016. She wrote: ‘Our singing group is called the #buzzcutAngels #vsfashionshow #vsfs2016 #melanin.’ Follow Herieth Paul on Instagram
Mentioned above, Maria was actually the first EVER model to wear her natural teeny weeny afro in the Victoria Secret show in 2015. “I told my agent I wanted to walk in the Victoria's Secret show with my natural hair," Borges told Essence. "I was nervous, but I had to do it. When they said 'yes' I didn't expect it, but I was so happy!” Follow Maria Borges on Instagram
Lineisy was the only afro in a line of 40 slick ponytails on the Prada autumn/winter catwalk in 2015. Speaking to i-D magazine back then, she said: “I didn't expect this impact, I am just Lineisy Montero, a young girl from Santo Domingo. My hair has never been a question, it's always been natural. I didn't do anything special except walking in the shows. I see now that is a big thing for the fashion industry so I am of proud of it. If it changes the mentality in the business for models like me I would be very happy.” Follow Lineisy Montero on Instagram
Paula chemically treated her hair to make it straight as a teenager but stopped at age 16 according to an interview with frolicious.de. She said “In the modelling industry its all about profiles, for what the brand is looking for to represent their company. So if the client is looking for a blonde girl or a brunette girl I wont fit what they are looking for. But If they want an afro girl, probably I will have some chance. I love my natural hair because it is me! It’s how I am and how I was born. Be yourself, love yourself.” Follow Paula Almeida on Instagram
I think singer and presenter Jamelia would be absolutely perfect for this video. Kendrick’s lyrics actually made me think of Jamelia and her well-documented journey from weaves and relaxer to her fabulous afro. She actually celebrated her two year ‘annivers-hair-y’ recently and is starting a Natural Hair Series on her Youtube channel which I can’t wait to see. Follow Jamelia on Instagram
I came across this model randomly on Instagram and I just love her photographs. She's so edgy. According to an article on Okay Africa, her childhood “was enveloped in moments of solitude, surrounded by the deadly chaos in Rwanda. Yet, she overcame this tragedy and blossomed into a colorful personality.” What a star.
*Lilian is actually in the video already. Duh! Thanks to Nikia for letting me know. However, I would have liked to see her in the afro hair scene for sure ;-)
Camille was one of the models featured in the recent Gucci teaser campaign which appeared looking like some audition tapes. She was asked "What does it mean to have soul?" And she replied: "Part of black culture. I think of afros, the old school flairs, Soul Train.” She is so cute. And she’s British ;-) Follow Camille Munn on Instagram