I first spotted her in Lagos, when she performed at Art X Lagos. Her look was appealing to me: Her hair was blonde with baby pink white circles in it. It reminded me somehow [no shade] of an Easter egg. In Accra I kept on bumping into her with different hair do’s and an interesting matching style of dressing- reason for me to chase her down and talk to her about her style.
A masculine or feminine style
“Right now I’m trying to find the balance in my style between what is masculine or feminine to me. A lot of people see me as more masculine, but I’m very dual”. Her latest Instagram posts show this duality. Where we might have seen her mainly in trousers and loose fitting shirts, showing not too much skin- she now is revealing more. “I want people to see my journey and growth, because I would like to impact their growth and freedom of expression”.
Her style evolved when she was getting more known “People recognized me and wanted to take a picture together while I was in my gym clothes… so I realized that I always have to be presentable”. Style is important to her, but not as important as self-awareness “It’s not about having the best style, but about a style that should reflect you as an artist”.
Image by: PM Boakye
Hip hop influences my style
When you look at female artists that have been creating music in West Africa, you see that a lot of them dress like we expect from a successful good looking, young female artist: long lush hair, tight fitted outfits, sexy make up and high heels. Amaarae is young and good looking- yet style-wise she’s everything but the above. Hip hop influences her style, her state of mind and her movement “I search for inspiration in old hip hop magazines, like Vibe and the Source, and I have icons like Diddy. He is a huge influence”. She often wears trousers with a shirt. When I meet her she wears a printed trousers that a friend designed for her and shirt with a soft print. On her head she wears a dark coloured cap, I can’t see the current design of her hair, I only see the short blonde sides.
We often think women cut their hair out of resistance- as a statement. Even though Amaarae wants to create a certain freedom for young girls in Ghana, this isn’t the primary reason for having short and funky hair. When she started to play with her hair it was for no other reason than to streamline her boredom “But now I see it allows girls to come out of their shells, and I enjoy how they experiment”. Amaarae is pleased to see she’s breaking the border between old fashion values and what the youth is doing now. “Surprisingly, when you just do what you feel like doing and tell people they have to accept it, they will!”.
Image by: PM Boakye
Redefining the norm
“Some of the things that I started early on in my life have now become the norm, style-wise”. Ripped jeans, a Mohawk- things she did before are now the norm for girls. What redefining the norm means to her? “I think I just have to continue to be me and continue to evolve. Once you put in your mind and in your spirit that you want to be a person that sets the pace for what people do it just shows in you. You don’t have to think about how to redefine it”
Amaarae had opportunities when she grew up. She wants to use her experiences to inspire girls who might not have had them since they inspired her and influenced her perspective. “There are so many bright, young minds. The only thing that is lacking for them is opportunity. You can learn anything you want on the internetbut some of these young minds need to be sparked. If they can’t have those resources, someone has to spark the ideas in their minds”. Amaarae wants to show young girls that nothing is impossible, that we as girls can do what we want: “I don’t think young African girls have somebody that represents them globally. Represent what they are, what they stand for and what they want to be and what they want to mean to the world- I want to do that. I want to be the spokesperson for every young black African girl”.