Model pays tribute to iconic black hair moments with photo series: 'I just want people to know how magical their hair is'

Megan Sims
·3 min read
Ziajah Nellom posts a different side-by-side hair photo for every day of Black History Month, and the results are legendary. (Photo: Ziajah Nellom)
Ziajah Nellom posts a different side-by-side hair photo for every day of Black History Month, and the results are legendary. (Photo: Ziajah Nellom)

A model has decided to use each day of Black History Month to honor black hair on Instagram, and people are definitely taking notice.

The photo series, “28 Afros,” comes courtesy of Ziajah Nellom, 24, of New Jersey, who has shared side-by-side pictures of herself alongside famous black figures, both rocking the same ’do.

“I’ve always been into fashion, [and as a kid] I dressed up as Tyra Banks,” Nellom tells Yahoo Lifestyle, explaining that the idea, now in its third year, was born out of her childhood love of dressing up as her favorite black celebs and characters. “I wore a blonde-ish…wig and had a pencil skirt, a button up shirt and, like, my little heels. I always thought she was so great, I loved America’s Next Top Model… I looked up to her a lot.”

Years later, Nellom, a retail visual merchandiser and freelance model, has created a tradition that is certainly making its mark. And while she had a team helping her create the looks the first year of “28 Afros,” she now takes the photos and creates the looks herself (with a little help from family). So far this year, she has recreated the looks of famous figures including Taraji P. Henson, Jimi Hendrix, Lisa Bonet, Kobe Bryant and fictional character Huey Freeman from The Boondocks.

“I really try to highlight those in the media that wear their natural hair because representation is super important,” Nellom says. “But I try to have diverse looks with each of the Afros... I really like when I get to do funky shapes, because it’s just so insane what our hair can do.”

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According to Nellom, her photo series is more popular than ever this year. And fans seem to agree.

“Best one EVER,” a commenter wrote, while another praised, “Keep doing this .. don’t stop when black history is over !!!!!!”

Even High School Musical actress Monique Cole has taken notice of Nellom’s photos, commenting under the photo Nellom recreated of her,“LOVE it!!”

Nellom, who wants to expand the project in 2021 and perhaps create a fashion line, says she’s been shocked by the amount of support she has received, and that she hopes people who see her photos think about self-love.

“I just want people to know how magical their hair is… and that their hair is multi-dimensional, and they should explore their hair,” she says. “I just want people to feel comfortable in every state of their natural hair.”

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