Hair Unstereotyped: Tauri Janeé on Beauty as a Ritual and Growing Up Biracial

Tauri Janeé is a Brooklyn-based creative writer, visual effects artist and self-proclaimed self-timer advocate. Janeé’s Instagram grid shows her affinity for expressing her unique artforms through 21st-century means; it’s full of layered edits of her singing and dancing alongside herself, creative brand deals, and her uniquely expressive writing. In a piece workshopped at the Brooklyn Writer’s Collective, Janeé specifically narrated her experience growing up as a biracial Black girl and how it impacted her relationship with her hair and beauty rituals.

For the next installment of our series Hair Unstereotyped, we sat down with Janeé to discuss her relationship with her hair and how it’s affected by her heritage and identity. Based on the premise that there’s more than just one hair story to be told, this project aims to diversify the conversation around hair and highlight real stories. Keep reading to learn more about Janeé’s relationship with her hair:

beauty rituals tauri janee
Photo credit: instagram.com/editaurial

Growing Up Biracial

“I am biracial,” Janeé says. “I am both white and Black American, and that has completely influenced my understanding of beauty growing up. And I have lived in this body for my entire life and I am fair-skinned; I have a loose bouncy curl pattern, and as a child, that was praised. I always got affirmations from people in my community that I was beautiful. And even in these moments where I perhaps wasn’t the most confident in the way that I looked or the most confident in my hair, I was able to find some sort of affirmation in my community because of my identity in ways that others in my community weren’t able to.”

Janeé says that her perception of beauty was completely skewed growing up. She was constantly being told she had “good hair” or the “best skin complexion.” She wasn’t able to broaden her perspective on beauty until as an adult, she realized her existence in a privileged body. “I had to do some unlearning and relearning when it came to beauty and what it meant to be beautiful,” Janeé says. “And now as an adult, I have a completely transformed perspective of what makes someone beautiful.”

Beauty as a Ritual

Janeé says that her hair had a huge influence on her growing up and the ritual of it taught her some valuable life lessons. “I used to get my hair braided often when I was a child and it taught me so much about patience and persistence,” she says. “I would often be so frustrated with the process. It hurt, was uncomfortable and it took forever, and I wanted it to be over, but there were these moments in the end when I would run to the mirror and look at myself feel so beautiful and empowered and like I could take on my world.

“Over time, my perspective completely shifted; I learned not to place such an emphasis on my hair because there were moments when I allowed it to define my beauty. And so in adulthood, I was able to completely chop all my hair off. It empowered me in a different way because I stopped allowing this one thing to define me as a whole.”

Go-to Hair Products

Janeé cites leave-in conditioner and deep conditioner as her go-to hair products in her beauty ritual. “I fell in love with the products because they’re super lightweight and I have thin hair. If I use a heavy product, it can cause a lot of build-up and can weigh down my curls. But because the product is so light and airy, it just gives me this fluffy curl pattern that I appreciate.

Editor’s note: We love SheaMoisture Jamaican Black Castor Oil Strengthen & Restore Leave-In Conditioner and SheaMoisture Raw Shea Butter Deep Treatment Masque to achieve the same results.

You can be beautiful in more than one way. If that means that you didn’t brush your hair today, then you didn’t brush your hair today.

Breaking Down Beauty Standards

“There were a lot of beauty standards that I grew up with that didn’t resonate with me. Fortunately, I had a solid support system,” Janeé says. “The women in my family never forced me to adapt to things that I wasn’t comfortable with. I had a grandmother who was like, ‘If you don’t want to shave your underarms, you don’t have to shave your underarms. If you don’t want to shave your legs, you don’t have to shave your legs.’ And so, it allowed me the freedom and the comfort to exist as I am.

“And so, my baby hairs weren’t always laid, and sometimes my ponytail was super frizzy or I had a messy hairstyle. I was able to be comfortable in that and confident in that. [This was ] because I had women around me who still uplifted me even if I wasn’t conforming to those beauty standards. And so now as an adult I try to kind of push out that same energy—where you don’t have to be perfect or be so mechanical. You can be beautiful in more than one way. If that means that you didn’t brush your hair today, then you didn’t brush your hair today!”

beauty rituals Tauri Janeé
Photo credit: instagram.com/editaurial

“A part of growing up as a little Black girl is your hair care ritual. In those moments, you’re able to be nourished and nurtured and taken care of by someone outside of yourself. And I think that’s such an important practice and such an important thing to learn as a young girl. Because as you get older and you’re transitioning into adulthood, those roles shift. No one is responsible for your own upkeep. You have to learn how to do that on your own.

“I think for a lot of us, that haircare practice is often a self-care practice because you’re taking it back to those moments of tenderness, those moments of nourishment, where you are taking care of yourself in ways that you had learned how to do when you were younger. And I think that’s really empowering and an important practice as an adult. Even if it’s just putting in a deep conditioner and reminding yourself, this is my body, and it deserves tenderness and it deserves love and nourishment.

Allyship

Janeé says that the beauty industry can be better allies to the Black community by featuring women who don’t look like her. She references a pattern within this industry in which fair-skinned Black women are constantly represented and glorified. “And while we are beautiful,” Janeé says, “There are women in our community who look different and deserve that same praise and the same opportunities that are offered to women who look like me. I mean, it can sound crazy, but sometimes there are moments when I say to myself, “Okay, my voice can be lowered in this moment and someone else’s can be amplified.”

“If you want to be an ally to this community, it means representing us in all of our forms. We are not just this one identity or this one standard of beauty. We are a beautiful, complex and diverse community that should be represented across the board.”

We want to thank Janeé for sharing her story with us. Hair Unstereotyped aims to shine a light on the lives and journeys of those who don’t always have their voices heard, so check back to hear more from some incredible people.

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