A thick dollop of transparent hair gel rests on the back of a brown hand.
A comb with three missing teeth and a metal tail teeters on the edge of a glass table, a family heirloom. The hands twist quickly–(“over, over, over,” she says to herself mentally, with still the space in her mind for more chatter about kids, her client’s schooling and dreams of a salon to call her own), the time ticks, the precision never changes. At the same time, a teenaged girl sits upright in a dining room chair with a curved metal back and a thin pillow. She’s too shy to ask for a thicker one. The hip magazine in her hands is worn out, plus they’re past the phase of her head needing to be held low, so she wouldn’t be able to read it anyways. She wishes she could discern how big the tuft of hair atop her head was, so she could guess how many braids were left. It’s been hours since they began and very well may be hours more before the task of Black beauty is complete.
This is a scene that we’ve experienced variations of, some in part due to Brandy’s braids.
“I think it’s awesome because I’m just a reflection of what these young girls and guys think they are,” the singer said of her signature hairstyle to Essence in 2017. “It’s great to feel free in your look and your body. It feels beautiful to just be yourself. People are really going after braids and being natural and I think it’s really nice.”
From the origin of her career as an actress, when Brandy’s short plaits curved along her face, we were inspired by her wearing of the protective style with African roots. As her fame increased, so did her hair’s length and by the release of her second album, 1998’s Never Say Never, her microbraids cascaded down her back. Her braids will always have a special place in Black girls’ hearts because they brought our flavor to the forefront and kept them there.
Keep scrolling to see Brandy’s best braid moments.