Culture July 3, 2018
Higher heights, longer lengths.
Father-daughter duo Benny and Jaxyn Harlem are a social media sensation not just because they take amazing photos but because they’re expressing their relationship through big, bold hair. They started on Instagram but have since taken the world by storm, appearing on magazine covers, television shows and spreading their message.
Harlem, who is a professional model, not only shows that natural hair is beautiful, but he’s redefining what it means to be a black man. He holds the 2018 Guinness World Record holder for the tallest high top fade and he clearly knows his way in front of a camera, but his and his family’s work is so much more than that.
Both Benny and Jaxyn’s hair and fashion are not only stylish but also powerful statements of self-love, self-worth and embracing one’s culture and identity.
Benny commits to strengthening his daughter’s self-worth through sharing and expressing their natural hair and beauty together. They pose in themed pictures with bright, matching outfits and hairstyles and stand tall and with confidence.
They also tackle issues affecting underrepresented communities. In one such photo (above), Jaxyn holds a doll, also matching with the duo, depicting the importance of representation in media. In the photo, there is the doll that looks like Jaxyn. However, her father stands taller and bigger in the photo, showing that he’s a greater force of representation. His presence makes him “magical” to his daughter, who looks to him as her “teacher in life.”
“He really is the most wonderful man in the world. His soul inspires me to be my best. Daddy is my confidant and my teacher,” she told Vice.
Benny strives to uplift people through his intricate Instagram posts, which has been a bright spot in an unfriendly social-political landscape.
This works on other people but most specifically, his daughter has learned valuable lessons. According to Vice, Jaxyn was bullied by classmates because of her natural hair. When her father explained to her about the importance of her roots and black identity, she gained confidence. This newfound pride and self-acceptance drowns out the voices of bullies.
One of their major house rules? Don’t let anyone touch your hair.
This way Benny prepares his daughter to not only defend herself physically but mentally, to block unwelcome attacks on her confidence and individuality.
Benny is vocal about the responsibility he feels towards the women in his life. Benny shows that the duty of nurturing self-acceptance in girls does not fall only onto mothers, but to fathers as well, a viewpoint often seen as unorthodox for men. In Glamour’s Feb. 2018 issue, Jaxyn shares that “my dad taught me to love myself.”
In one post, Benny advocates the importance of honoring daughters, advising other men to “honor your daughter’s feelings…Honor anyone daughter’s feelings. Her thoughts, emotions, and ideas matter.”
Benny abides by loving mantras, which he shares with his 492,000 Instagram followers (and counting). He emphasizes gentleness and patience as “a sign of a man’s true strength”.
Of course, the father-daughter duo is incomplete without mother Courtney, also known as the “Queen” of this powerful family.
According to Harlem’s Instagram, the family holds the title as “the first black family to ever cover/feature in a 30-page fashion editorial, for a high fashion magazine.” They were on the cover of D4 Magazine’s California Special Issue released in May.
All eyes are, and will continue to be on, this power family empowering people to embrace, love, and care for themselves.
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