Endia Beal is a 30-year-old contemporary photographer with a niche in social activism and feminism. She is best known for her 2013 project, Can I Touch It? Which photographed a group of about six white women with distinctively black hair styles in the work place.
The project was created to shed light on the stereotypes and issues that black women face in the workplace everyday having natural and/or cultural ethnic hairstyles. The series struck a debate about race and how unfair corporate working conditions are towards black women.
Recently, the Winston-Salem professor and artist released a compelling and relevant photo shoot featuring young, black women as they would appear in their professional careers. Am I What You’re Looking For? is a series of photographs capturing young women dressed in interview attire in front of a corporate hallway back drop. Formerly, Beal was once a young black woman amidst a corporate company with mostly white co-workers. She was constantly talked about behind her black and questioned about the look and reason for her God-given tresses. Fast forward to today, Beal has become a supporter of black pride in the work place, creating work and speaking on the importance of not conforming to physical norms. Beal’s latest project was inspired by her involvement and concern for her soon-to-be post graduates of Winston-Salem State University and their futures in the labor world.
Beal to Refinery29:
“I’m a professor at Winston Salem State University, and my students were coming to me with their concerns about going into the working world. They were coming back to me [after interviews]and saying, ‘Listen, Professor Beale, I was talking to my interviewer, and he told me my hair was unkempt.’ Or…’my heels were too high.’ Or…’I had on too much makeup.’ It was the same kind of feedback I received when I was in the corporate space. I found myself thinking about the idea of having to perform when you go into that corporate setting.”
Beal has a strong background in exploring racial gaps in the work place. After completing her master’s degree at Yale University, she made it her responsibility to produce work that would bring an issue to the forefront, while attempting to make change. As a black woman experiencing the same treatment as her students now, Beal has taken responsibility to be a voice in the black art community.
Check out her pictures from her most recent project, Am I What You’re Looking For? below.
Photo Credit(s): Endia Beal, Linked In