Adorning the hair and body is something that we talk a lot about here at HTHG because we understand this form of expression to be both powerful and healing. Engaging with our natural world and honoring and caring for our bodies is what we want to encourage here, which is why I am taking the time to share the photographs of German Photographer Hans Silvester, who has visually documented the incredible natural adornment of the tribes of the Omo Valley.
People in connection to the natural world is an incredible way to express both art and tradition. The adornment customs of the Surma and Mursi tribes who live in the Omo Valley on the borders of Ethiopia, Kenya, and Sudan, express this connection in a stunningly unique way by using bright mineral paints with plants and artifacts from the natural world to adorn themselves.
Here is a quote from Hans about why he is fascinated with the customs of these people.
“what’s most important for me is saving, in some way, as much as possible of this truly living art, which is mobile, changing, subject to infinite variation, and whose constituent elements are simple and form a link between man and nature. It seems to me that our modern painting found the purpose of these elements, this simplicity, and used it as its foundation.”
What I really wish is that I could ask questions of the Surma and Mursi people themselves and get a sense of the meaning and origins and beliefs behind the decorations of their bodies. Or maybe it is purely an just an art form of complete experimentation. Either way, I feel so drawn to it.
Messy Nessy Chic reports: ……Because they are a nomadic people without permanent architecture on which to express their art, they use their bodies as their canvases, embellishing their skin with mineral pigments from powdered volcanic rock and dressing themselves in “textiles” obtained from the natural world around them.
……It’s also reported that visitors to the region are seeing the artistic traditions of the tribes being exploited for tourism, fueling fantasies of exoticism. Other photographers have expressed their disappointment at witnessing a “fancy-dress parade”, performed solely for the benefit of the visitor who pays for the privilege of photographing it.
Doesn’t this make our mainstream western views on fashion and adornment seem kind of silly and uninspired? The Surma and Mursi tribal people make me want to wear only flowers on my body for the rest of time.
I grew up in a foraging family. We fished, we picked berries, we hunted, we dug clams, and we foraged for mushrooms. Photo from @filthandbeauty
Of course, like many of you, I spent many years between the ages of 11-23 or so, trying to rid myself of all of my families strange habits, rituals and general impositions……Only to circle back around as a mother myself, and find a deep-seated true love and reverence for the art of foraging deep inside myself…..and a strong will to instill it in my children.
Since moving back to the Pacific Northwest, I have grown to really love and appreciate mushrooms. Partly because they are all around me all the time, but also because I sense a very important relationship between humans, the earth, and the force and magic of the mighty fungus.
In my quest to understand my own body and the PH scale, I learned that fungus grows where things are out of balance, in places where acidification proliferates. In an effort to re-mediate their environment, fungus/mushrooms appear to function as both warnings and re-balancers, letting us know when we need to be weary of the shift in balance, and working to bring bio-vitality back to wherever they are by stimulating microbial and enzyme activity…..In the soil, or on the body. This function is hard-wired, and incredibly cool.
The purpose of mushrooms as bio-re mediators (All-Life-healers or Mycoremediators) has been proven time and time again, as mushrooms are frequently used to clean up man-made environmental hazards. This same concept can be applied just the same to the body, with the fungus working to remove toxins and prevent illness.
This shit is really cool. I really look forward to learning more about mushrooms in my lifetime, as I really sense a real importance and magic in Mycology, the study of Mushrooms.
Today, I am sharing this little hair offering of braids and mushrooms and a little picture I sketched of mushrooms, just to show my appreciation:)
For a tutorial on these braids, check out this post. Then, forage some mushrooms and flowers and pin them into your braids, making sure to thank each little mushroom with a smile every time you pick one.
If you are interested, check out Radical Mycology, a podcast from an incredibly inspiring conscious woman named Ayana Young who shares stories of Radical Earth Repair on her show Unlearn and Rewild. She has taught me so much:)
Check out this website for valuable information on wild mushroom Hallucinogenics, fungaltools used to expand consciousness in the mind. Take it from most documented indigenous tribes the world over……There is value in this sort of mind-altering experimentation……..But only when administered with great care and mindfulness, and lot’s of credible information.
Random fact about the Reishi, one of my favorite mushrooms:
Reishi Mushroom, which is also known as Ganoderma lucidum, is a mushroom which has been used in Chinese medicine to bolsters the body’s immune system, and has been proven to help prevent and fight cancer. It has also been used as as a hair growth treatment, made into a restorative tonic that helps slow down premature hair loss.
This Photo by @Jill_bliss just shows how lovely and magical mushrooms can be. An absolute delight!
I encourage us all to learn more about the magic of mushrooms!
I am dubbing 2016 the Year of the Empress. The year of divining our inner power and letting it lead us forward, together!
Hi my friends! Happy New Year to all of you. I wanted to take some time to celebrate this new year with you, and share with you all the state of things are here at HTHG, for 2016 and the foreseeable future.
To begin with, I woke up on New Years Day with a sense of gratitude and wholeness and excitement for the future that I haven’t felt before, ever. I want to thank you all for your support thus far, for sticking with me as I navigate the world of blogging, styling, healing, creating, and small business ownership.
As you all know, HTHG is a multi-faceted labor of love, and one that I decided several months ago to fully commit to by quitting my day job and trusting the vision and the support of my readers…..That is you. So thank you SO VERY much for being here, from my deepest heart:)
I have found such inspiration this year from nature, thanks @jacquieaiche for this photo. Eternally, my biggest muse is the beauty around us that grows from the earth. This years Free Your Hair Earth Collection was a wonderful exploration of hair and earth-based healing.
Here is a quick little view of what life is like right now…..I am spending about 12 hours a week cutting hair out of my living room parlor salon, the Free Your Hair Salon. I have a lovely little clientele, a great-fit group of people who are a pleasure to work with. I am still taking new clients, but trying to keep it small and intimate and special.
I write whenever I can, take my camera out when I have the time and space for it, and try constantly to get to the roots of beauty and truth. Our girls, Marley and Selah are the apples of our eyes, the raucus, creative and vibrant thorns in our sides, and our inspiration for stewardship…..The older they get, the more we want to make this world better for them to take over when they step into their own power.
We spend time with family and friends as much as we can, and we bitch about how busy we are while constantly taking on more and more. This year, I took one month off of work in July, and 2 weeks in December. This time allowed me to step back, slow down, re-asses, and stress about not making any money. Ha!
My husband Jonny and I are excited to embark on a big co-creation project this year, biggest thing we have collaborated on since our baby girl Selah almost 5 years ago. We are going to build a small building behind our house…… A woodshop and a hair salon in the bottom floor, with an apartment/multi-use creative space on the top floor. This, as we jokingly call, the Hair B&B, will create the opportunity for us to make our livings in our own backyard which is what we both aspire to.
We hope to run the building on solar power and collected rainwater as much as possible, and to be able to build the little studio house of our own co-dreams. The kids will help, when we can bribe them into it, on the small jobs. Our goal is to have it be a project that allows us all to learn and grow together and to create something which will help sustain and support us all. I can’t wait to share the progress here at HTHG! and I also can’t wait to have some of you in my chair at the Hair B&B in the coming years:)
What I’m excited about this year at HTHG? Teaching a skillshare circle on Earth-based Hair care and Adornment at the Spiritweavers Gathering. I am majorly excited to share knowledge and connect with other creating women this year. I am also scared shitless to step into a teaching role. Always have been……And also always knew it was an inevitable step for me. Here is to taking on challenges! 2016 is the year!
I’m really looking forward to more creative collaborating with brands and artists that I love, like last years Totally Blown/ Free Your Hair Desert Alchemy Haircare line. 2016 at HTHG will be chalk full of guest artists and brands with good ethics and great products and tools. I can’t wait to introduce you!
General Empowerment! Let’s not forget this touchstone value of HTHG…….This year, there are women all over the world who are embracing their natural body hair, as an expression of their freedom to choose to accept themselves as they are. in 2015, the FYP Movement hit the New York Times, after months and months of conversation in the public forum on the topic of body hair.
Since then, we have watched the conversation shift towards normalization and acceptance, to something of the past that isn’t very interesting anymore. This, and the fact that armpit hair is all of the sudden appearing everywhere from the cast of GIRLS to mainstream magazines and ad campaigns the world over, make me think that our job championing body hair and personal choice with the FYP movement, is done.
What will the be the next empowerment movement to come out of HTHG? Only time will tell, but I can promise you it will be bigger, and better organized the next time around. And YOU will be a part of it with me, won’t you please?
Mandala making, my main meditation. I can’t escape it. It brings me more peace than anything else in the entire world.
Oh! Wait What? It’s the Free Your Hair Brush!!!!!!! Mixed Bristle, Beech wood base…….The perfect brush for moving oil through the hair from roots to ends, the mechanical cleansing device and sacred tool of self-care……Coming Soon!!!!!!
2016 Empress Guide to Companies I Love
Before I say goodbye, here is a quick link shout out to brands, artists and companies who I have had the pleasure to stumble upon and connect with this year who I really love want to help support, because they have helped me to channel my inner empress by creating a life that feels true and authentic and powerful.
These companies are forging positive change, encouraging greater health and consciousness, and encouraging eternal creativity……Check them, and a big thanks to all of them:)
In the spirit of hair experimentation and general positivity, and in light of the Free Your Pits Movement 1 year anniversary, I am THRILLED to introduce you to Johnathan and Brian, Portland best-friend duo of The Gaybeards……As if you haven’t already seen them! Ha! These beards are blowing up the internet right now.
The Gaybeards are 2 young men with stunningly great beards who are unafraid to decorate them in colorful and creative ways, and share them with the world in an effort to spread fun, lightheartedness, experimentation, and personal expression. From the mobile office of HTHG and The Free Your Pits Movement, I raise my coffee cup full of luke-warm coffee in the direction of Portland, to The Gaybeards, my heart singing a happy song of love and freedom for these dudes and their beards.
Today, I want to thank you all for being here, and especially thank Johnathan and Brian for enthusiastically sharing words on their mission, their lives, and their beards with us here at HTHG……..I hope you are as inspired by them as I am:)
Ladies and Gents, I present you with The Gaybeards…….Johnathan and Brian: Artists, Hair Growers, and Fearless Beard Decorators.
Talking Beards, Glitter and Positivity with The Gaybeards
To begin with, what inspired The Gaybeards?
Both of us have always been creative minds, and without knowing it, we grew our next canvases right below our eyes. Once our beards were big enough, it didn’t surprise anyone who knew us that we started finding things to put in them. When we discovered the overwhelmingly positive support from the online community, the rest was history.
What is your intention with The Gaybeards, and what are your goals?
The Gay Beards is an idea that not everything in the world must be so serious. As time goes on, more burdens and stress are placed upon people and their everyday lives. We hope that putting our beards and our ideas out into the world will give even one person an extra reason to smile. We hope to be a part of the art movement, encouraging others to live out their own dreams and happiness, wherever that might lead them.
What would be your dream collaboration?
There are simply just too many to choose from. We are hopeful that in the future we will have the opportunity to work with many talented and creative minds. If it takes us outside of the box, we are on board for whatever comes our way.
Your message of positivity is infectious. What quote or mantra sums up the Gaybeards and the message you want to spread?
“- I shall be telling this with a sigh
Somewhere ages and ages hence:
Two roads diverged in a wood, and I—
I took the one less traveled by,
And that has made all the difference.”
– The Road Not Taken, Robert Frost
The Men Behind the Beards
Where are you both from?
Johnathan was born and raised in Portland, Oregon. Brian was born in Idaho Falls, Idaho, moving to Portland at the age of 8.
How did you meet?
Back in the wonderful year of 1998, we met through a mutual friend. After one evening of hanging out, we truly have been best friends ever since.
What were/are you doing in life besides being The Gaybeards, personally and professionally?
Since our early years, both of us have always had art be a big part of our lives. Brian is a painter and photographer by trade, while Johnathan is a musician. The Gay Beards definitely takes up a big portion of our creative energy, but with that being said, you will always find us working something new and unusual.
When you were young, did you have any formative experiences or preferences that may have helped inspire your Gaybeards future? What did you want to be when you grew up?
Both of our parents have long been supporters of whatever it is either of us wanted to become. It would seem that their love and encouragement ultimately just helped us follow our hearts and find our own niche passions. Art most definitely runs in our blood lines, so perhaps genetics, perhaps our upbringing. Living in a place as open and accepting as Portland, Oregon has also played a big part in who we are today. We feel fortunate to have never felt pressured or uneasy about being ourselves in the place we call home.
Getting to Know Your Beards
If your beards could talk, what would they say?
They would probably ask us, albeit politely, to stop covering them in soup and crumbs.
If your beard had a spirit animal, mythical or real, what would it me?
Mariah Carey or Celine Dion. Can’t imagine life without them!
If you could sum up the unique personality of your beard in three words, what would they be?
1) High-maintenance 2) Fuzzy 3) Happy
Feel like writing a haiku about your beards?
We keep your face warm
Holding your silly objects
Please don’t shave us off
Your Beard-Care Routines…..
Tell us about your beard care and maintenance routines. Products? Trims? Treatments?
A typical beard day for us starts with a good shower (and shampoo a couple times a week). Once the beard has dried a bit, we add a healthy dose of beard oil, and then give it a good comb with a boar bristle brush. After that, we apply beard balm and beard wax, giving it a healthy shine. After the beard is shaped, we top our mustaches off with some mustache wax, give it a nice curl, and out the door we go!
How do you get sparkles out of your beards?
One very hot shower, and one very good shampoo. Even then though, it always takes a couple days to rid of it all.
Do you have word of wisdom for someone who really wants to grow a beard, but is afraid to dive in?
You’ll never know until you try! We could have quite possibly grown our beards out much earlier then we did. The only reason we ever found our fury face mantles was by giving it a try, and for that, we say the same to someone who might be toying with the idea of growing theirs out. You can always shave it off, right?
How about for someone who really wants to decorate his/her beard but is not sure where to start?
Following one’s creativity is important on this one. When you consider all the small items in the world that could possibly fit in a beard, the possibilities are limitless. We will always and forever encourage both men and women to find a beard, whether or not it is their own, and have fun with it (given permission, of course). Beards have long been seen as the pinnacle of manliness, which may hold true for some, but for our beards, they like to feel pretty too.
What is the future of beards going to look like?
Honestly, we aren’t sure. That is a beautiful thing about facial hair though. The ebbs and flows of society’s willingness to embrace beards has been present for as long as we know. We plan to keep making beard art until we are old and wrinkly, so regardless of what the beard “trend” is doing, we will be somewhere, finding something odd to put in our beards.
Friends, let’s let The Gaybeards be our 2016 Inspiration for dreaming big, following our own unique paths, trusting our own creativity and voice and shining our positive light on the world around us. In the words of The Gaybeards…..
“….Set your minds free, and dream beyond the stars!”
Love, and Good Tidings, HTHG and Brian & Johnathan of The Gaybeards
I found Brittsense a week ago while combing through Losthairdressers, which is one of my favorite Instagram feeds for hair inspiration. I went to her website, and spent the next hour pouring over the photography of Brittani Sensabaugh and her Power of Melanin Project, feeling like I had stumbled upon a golden palace of shimmering, uplifting energy, vision, beauty and strength. I reached out, she graciously agreed to share some photos and some words with HTHG readers.
Stunned, I have no other words but to introduce Brittani Sensabaugh and thank her for sharing her art, her point of view, her mission, and her words with us. Please read on, then check out her work, and share in her potent vision of healing, empowerment and love.
All photos in this feature were taken by Brittani Sensabaugh
Talking Vision, Inspiration, Society, and Hair with Brittani Sensabaugh
Dear Nubian Empress, Every root of your hair tells a different story, Do not be fooled by fools that will tell you otherwise… It grows out like a bush because YOU are a reflection of the SUN.. It dances around because your MELANIN has soul & like Gold it will continue to shine. There’s no way to duplicate it which makes you one of a kind, Remain pure & Continue to Embrace it. Always wear your Crown of History Proudly because no one can erase it – Poem by brittsense
I created the “Power Of Melanin” series to show the strength & different levels of beauty that my people embody. My people struggle physically but even more mentally. When you are raised up in broken communities without any resources or a blueprint in society to guide you through your journey, it’s much harder to maneuver & build a foundation. When you are ruled under a system that is meant to destroy you & not build you up, It makes you question your worth. When your identity has been erased and replaced with misguided truths, You feel lost & angry.
A lot of us are out in the world creating a foundation from nothing & that is something I will always give us credit for.
Whether your 9 to 5 is owning a business, creating art, playing sports, getting an education, making music or selling drugs, the common denominator is survival & trying to make sense of situations that make you feel hopeless. We learn from the individuals & environment around us & when that is constantly destroyed you feel defeated & trapped.
THE MISSION of this series is to REMIND my people of the Power, beauty, strength, but most importantly the LOVE in the pain we may often feel daily. It’s to show you that no matter HOW MUCH we go through, WE still shine & will always shine in all that we do because MELANIN is Real Power. Our hair, Communication & everyday movement is because of the Melanin within our skin.
I became a documentarian once I realized the Power of Energy. The biggest gift the universe has given me is the ability to FEEL. I feel EVERYTHING & that has allowed me to connect with other souls that want to feel but are scared. I see so many people on this earth that walk around just existing because society has made them feel that being numb is the way to survive.
I started 222forgottencities to bring back awareness, but most importantly the ability to feel throughout every moment in your journey while being on this earth. I wake up everyday crying because there are so many emotions that flow through me constantly & I’m super aware of the energy around me.
Daily I’ve become truly thankful for all of my transitions & Emotions because I learn the balance of discipline, acceptance, patience, & Unconditional Love.
I have realized that whenever you submit your will to someone else’s opinion apart of you dies.
Society has a way to make us feel that in order to obtain a certain level of happiness you have to ‘believe in this, have this much money, know these many types of people, look & act this certain way, love this way, do things in this order’ & most times it leaves us feeling confused, disappointed, dissatisfied, & not worthy because it doesn’t happen the way we expected.
My biggest gift when documenting 222forgottencities is being able to be transparent with everyone I come across & showing each soul I connect with that it’s okay to not know & that we are in the trenches together despite how society makes us feel.
Showing them that they aren’t FORGOTTEN because their a reflection of me through all conditions, & that being numb isn’t surviving but it’s disconnecting them from the unconditional Love they deserve to feel.
I see & learn from them & they see & learn from me which is what makes US so powerful.
I see life in pictures & I freeze frame every moment I see in my head.
It’s almost as if I’m living in a motion picture. Every since I was younger I’ve been able to feel the pain of the world but most importantly the Love. My camera allows me to balance out both energies.
With all of my documentations my mission is bringing awareness to different aspects that are overlooked in society & Hair is one of them.
Hair has always been a big part of my life since I was a little girl, especially Hair braiding. I used to cry every time I got my hair braided because I was tender headed & super hyper so sitting for long periods of time was challenging for me.
I remember feeling really pretty though afterwards because my sister would braid my hair in funky styles that no one else had at school & everyone always wanted to touch the colorful beads on my braids.
I remember when I got my first perm & I cried even more because I didn’t understand why I had to put something in my hair that burned & made me feel super uncomfortable just to get my hair straight when braids were a style that I had already gotten used to.
As I got older, when my sister did my hair not only was it beautiful to get all the funky styles but the process behind It was even more amazing.
I also realized that sitting down getting my hair braided became a way for me to build with my people.
My sister used to tell me that your hair is Love & you should always take care of it but most importantly embrace it. Once I became an adult I started realizing more how much my people are conditioned to believe that their hair holds no value because of Societies negative perceptions.
For years our hair has been talked about in such a bad light & my mission when documenting is to bring back the value & Importance. I want people to realize the creativity but most importantly the love & building behind hair braiding & the uniqueness of the texture that Black hair has.
My mission is to also bring awareness for all the little empress that don’t Overstand the beauty of their hair because they’re bombarded with Imagery that shows them differently. I wrote that poem for them.
When I’m not wearing my hair Natural, I wear it in protective styles such as Braids & Marley twists. Most of the time my hair is wrapped up in fabric which makes people assume that I’m Muslim, but I wrap my hair to protect my realm from toxin energy.