Ebony Louise Barrett is a fashion photographer, stylist and filmmaker from South London. As a black mixed-race, pansexual woman Ebony’s influences are drawn from the stories of her peers as well as her own personal experiences. Ebony is also the founder of the Harajuku fashion magazine - BonBon.
My project focuses on uplifting the black female community (as a black woman myself) and telling the stories of black women. For so long, it has been 'acceptable' for black women to not be the default, for them not to be the main character. Black people are demonised for archaic stereotypes whilst stolen from for cool new 'trends'. My project focuses on black women as superheroes reclaiming these features and turning them into superpowers.
Lazy stereotypes of blackness have fed into the beliefs that black women can't be soft, they're explosive, argumentative and passion is mistaken for aggression. There are so many insecurities black people face born out of inbred racism that once defined black culture as something so unique and powerful, and can be claimed back as that. The sensitivities that black people are constantly demonised and dehumanised for are some of our greatest strengths, and are turned against us out of pure fear.
These superheroes lightheartedly play up to the stereotypes we have been assigned but use them as a vice to excel their story - these characters all have fully-resolved backgrounds and I aim to represent as many of the insecurities and sensitivities as I can. Their names are sweet treats which share some of the same properties as the stereotypes, and work with the Japanese fashion aesthetic. For example popcorn is an explosive food much like how black women are called 'temperamental'.
This project was a collaboration not just with beautiful black women, but upcoming fashion designers - Alice Hampton, Aminat Odunewu-Ademola and Aurelie Fontan. They took my sketches and created garments that spoke to each character's individual story. It was imperative for my project to show a variety and not just one type of black girl, because that doesn't exist. Little black girls need to see girls who look like them who are making magic, by simply being themselves and owning what makes them different. This should be the standard for modern black storytelling - there are no excuses anymore.