In ihrem Selbstporträt “Monolog” gestattet Clarita Maria intime Einblicke in die Beziehung Schwarzer Frauen zu ihrem Haar. Begleitet von den Stimmen ihrer Tanten, die in Bemba über kulturell aufgeladene wie auch alltäglicher Aspekte informieren, konfrontiert und entlarvt die Künstlerin durch eine Reihe fokussierter, zumeist indirekter Nahaufnahmen den voyeuristischen Blick, der vor allem in mehrheitlich weißen Gesellschaften ein ebenso traumatisierend wie alltäglicher Aspekt für Schwarze Frauen darstellt.

Since the eighteenth century, most African American girls have
been taught from a very young age that their natural hair texture
is the least desirable and that when they come of age, they need
to straighten their hair in order to be considered beautiful. An
ingrained belief about the unacceptability of African characteristics
and beauty has caused women and men to try to conform
to European ideals of beauty. In the early 1900s, in order to be
considered appropriately dressed, African Americans had to
straighten their natural tresses or cover their hair with a wig to
simulate the hairstyles worn by Europeans. For men and women
looking to be employed, transforming their natural hair to a likeness
of European standards was important.
Hair product pioneers such as Annie Malone, Madame C. J.
Walker, and Garrett Morgan revolutionized African American
hair care. With moisturizing concoctions, heat-assisted
straightening combs, chemical straightening products, and
shampoos, they quickly became millionaires. Annie Malone’s
products (under the name of Poro), Madame C. J. Walker’s
products (under the name of Wonderful Hair Grower), and
Garrett Morgan’s hair straightener (under the name of Hair
Refining Cream) assisted in helping women across the United
States chase the European beauty ideals. As a result of her
success in the United States, Madame C. J. Walker’s products
began attracting new customers from other countries of the
African diaspora such as Cuba, Jamaica, Haiti, Panama, and
Costa Rica.
In the 1994s and 1950s, straightening became the only acceptable
way to style hair. Between the 1920s and the early 1960s,
men also began experimenting with a hair-straightening process
called a “conk” made from lye, eggs, and potatoes. The straightening
comb invented by the French in the 1840s and patented by
Annie Malone in the early 1900s was a staple in every African
American home. Once a less harmful chemical straightener
for women had been invented by Jose Calva in 1948, natural
hair could only be found on young children. The straightening
of a young girl’s natural hair became a rite of passage into womanhood