Natural hair is having a long overdue moment — from celebrities rocking their kinky, coily hairstyles on the red carpet to famous moms like Viola Davis encouraging their children to love the hair texture they were born with — and for good reason.
A study published in February titled “The Good Hair Studied” surveyed 4,000 participants and found that people still have biases toward natural black hair. Instead of shrinking away from textured hair, however, husband-and-wife photography team Kahran and Regis Bethencourt of CreativeSoul Photography are fully embracing it in their work and encouraging little girls of color to do the same.
The Atlanta natives are the mastermind and talents behind the AfroArt photo series, which features black girls around the U.S. showing off their natural hair in beautifully exaggerated ways created by Lachanda Gatson.
“Unfortunately, the lack of diversity often plays into the stereotypes that they are not ‘good enough’ and often forces kids to have low self-esteem,” Kahran tells Yahoo Lifestyle. “We try to combat these stereotypes in our photography by showing diverse imagery of kids who love the skin they’re in, their own natural curls, and their culture.”
They decided to give the shoot, which the Bethencourts got underway during summer 2016, a Baroque theme (the Renaissance era around the 17th and 18th centuries) to contrast the girls’ larger-than-life hairstyles.
The result: stunning photos of girls with equally stunning hair.
Even more important than the look, the couple saw the models fall in love with their natural appearance.
“The most memorable part of the shoot was seeing the look on the girls’ faces when they saw their hair in the Afro styles,” Kahran said.
Many of the girls had never seen their hair styled this way, but Kahran says a few wanted to wear their styles home. While some may be too young to understand the significance of the shoot, Yolanda Polley’s 11-year-old daughter, Zoie, didn’t.
“She totally understands what it means, and she gets it,” says Polley, adding that Zoie loves her hair. “She wears her natural hair every day.”
As for the others, Kahran hopes they’ll look back and see the beauty they have within themselves.
“We also hope that it gives them the boost of confidence they need to go out and conquer the world,” she says. Or as some call it, #BlackGirlMagic.
Read more from Yahoo Lifestyle: