Portrait Photographer & Hair Stylist

Meet Isatu Barrie

Isatu Barrie is a Sierra Leoneone Muslim hairstylist in training and a photographer.

Her first memories of the arts began when she was 14-years-old. As a child, she always got her hair braided from her mother and wanted to do these styles on her own hair. Her mother and older sister are her role models. They inspire her to follow her dreams.

During quarantine 2020 ...

Isatu couldn’t afford to get her natural hair braided every 2 weeks so she taught herself how to do cornrows with the help of her best friend, sisters, and mother. Styling hair as a part of self-care is very important to her because when her hair is finished and styled, she feels confident, beautiful, and happier. She wants others to feel the same. The arts led her to the woman she is today - more open to new ideas and discussions that she might have disagreed with before.

In the future, she strives to study criminal law and be a lawyer

Isatu also strives to become a hair specialist with her own hair company that has natural curly hair products used for both high and low porosity hair, which will include products such as a growth oil and more. She wants to change Jane and Finch stereotypes and hopes the media will display the positive sides of her community.

Isatu hopes to create her own women empowerment program for Toronto youth living in low-income areas to love their beauty, learn more about their identity, and explore what the future holds for them. Overall, Isatu is a leader who exhibits strength, ambition, and determination.

"Crown My Curls"

Portrait/Fashion/Editorial Photography Series - Artist Statement

I always wanted to be a hairstylist. I’ve always liked to braid my hair and help others put their natural hair in protective styles to make sure their hair is healthy and can grow. As well, different hair textures require different products and techniques. I combined my passion for photography and hair through this photography campaign - I want to help women feel confident in themselves wearing out their natural hair embracing their texture. I want them to walk around in schools and malls and not care about others' opinion on their hair because the only thing that matters is you.

My photographs go beyond just an image; each photograph shares a story. My photography campaign captures the beauty within women, reminding them to never forget their beautiful identities and where they came from. As well, my campaign breaks down stereotypes about Black women and the Jane and Finch community. My work displays black women of all types of hair (from 3a to 4c), who have been through hardships, and do not have the opportunity to access photoshoots from low-income communities such as Jane and Finch. 

Many people view the Jane and Finch community as a gun violence area and have stereotypes that we will not be successful and only end up in the streets or jail, when Jane-Finch realistically has amazing mentors and programs that help through all this negativity, such as Success Beyond Limits and The Flaunt It Movement. These programs give youths around the community to explore their arts, goals and not to let the perspective of Jane and Finch live in them. I want people to view Jane and Finch as a diverse, talented community. We have amazing leaders that are athletes, artists, entrepreneurs, writers, and etc. Our social identity is everything that surrounds us such as our friends. Community, school and city. It is an important part of who we are and important to surround yourself with people that will uplift your self esteem, motivate you, and take care of you. 

As well, most of the world views black women to be less pretty than white women. Black people have beautiful different skin colours and different textures of hair such as curly and kinky hair. We are always being categorized for our body, hair, and skin. If you're not a lightskin with 3c type hair you are not considered beautiful or if your hair is short or 4c it is “nappy” or “ugly”. In reality, this is beautiful. My hair type is 3c/4a and when I was younger people would always say don’t ever cut your hair, you will look ugly with short hair or you're the only one in your family with beautiful hair, your hair is not rough. I know they are not coming to me with bad intentions but those words are not pleasant. The length does not define how beautiful you are. The beauty standards I would like to change are women always having to wear makeup and straightening their hair for formal events/ job interviews because it is viewed as unprofessional to wear our natural hair. To make a change, we have to act upon it and not just talk.

In the photos I have photographed, The theme is brown/nude shades as it compliments my models beautiful skin colour. I used a crown to remind them they are the queens no matter what society says about beauty standards for women. Seidy is showing her shrinkage and feeling confident in it as this is her first time putting her hair in an afro and she loved it. Kadi and Yasmeen show a queen uplifting another queen putting on her crown proudly. Whereas, the group photo on top of each other shows the different textures and varieties from 3a to 4c. 

Hair is an important part of our identity. I want to be able to help everyone find hair products that are healthy to use whether you have low/high porosity and density. As a hair specialist in training, my purpose is to help all my natural hair people all over the world.