Hair rollers are more than a tool we use to curl our hair. They’re a gateway that brings some of us back to touching memories of our mothers as they prepared us for ceremonious occasions like Sunday service.
For New York City-based hairstylist Anike Rabiu, hair rollers are a symbol of sophistication. So it’s no wonder why rag rollers, foam rollers, and Velcro rollers make her think of legendary women like Diahann Carroll and Eartha Kitt.
“They evoke a chic, feminine power,” Rabiu told ESSENCE. “I couldn’t wait for my mum to let me have rollers in my hair. My two older sisters, after they’d get their hair pressed, they’d use the pink foam rollers to achieve the mushroom hairstyle that was popular in the 80s, and I thought they were the coolest big sisters in the world. I loved their look, and I thought my sisters were so dope.”
Rabiu’s love for the essential hair tools led her to create “Rollers – A Beauty & Hair Story,” a project that showcases the different ways women of color wear rollers in their hair.
“For women of color, our hair is very diverse, so we wanted to show the diverse ways rollers were used back in the day and how they’ve evolved,” said photographer Briana Greenidge, who partnered with Rabiu on the project. “Rollers have progressed.”
“We started from the very old ones with a soft cushion, then the hard ones that came out later on, and then we went to the flexi- rods. So we basically wanted to show the evolution of rollers and how they’ve influenced us and how we use them in different types of hair.”
Check out some of the stunning visuals from the project below.