My mum relaxed my hair at a young age. For decades I didn’t know what my actual hair texture was. And I thought: what if that doesn’t have to be the case for the next generation of brown girls?
Antonia, Un-ruly.com

Hi! I’m Antonia I’m based in France.

I spent years in advertising before launching my own beauty platform for Black women,  Un-ruly.com , four years ago. One of the things I love about Un-ruly is creating content that I know will resonate with our readers. Our big content pieces include our short film 
You Can Touch My Hair , our docu-series  Pretty  and now our multi-media project,  #Hairties
, which we’ve created with the help of Smooth ’N Shine.

I’ve returned to my natural texture twice now. The first time I didn’t realize I was going natural. I was fresh out of college and was stressed by ‘the real world’ and cut off all my hair in frustration. It grew out and I wore it natural for a while but then relaxed it again. After a couple years I started to see my hairline thinning and decided to stop it in its tracks; so I transitioned to natural hair. I’ve been natural now for about six years.

The inspiration for my series, #Hairties

The inspiration actually came from something Michaela Angela Davis said in our short film, You Can Touch My Hair. She explains that most black women start off wrong when it comes to their hair, referring to the fact that we’re immediately trying to change our because it’s something that’s not considered acceptable or beautiful. That was the case for me. My mum relaxed my hair at a young age. For decades I didn’t know what my actual hair texture was. And I thought: what if that doesn’t have to be the case for the next generation of brown girls? What can we do to start off ‘right,' to have a whole generation of women loving their hair from the start? And that led to the conception of #Hairties. I refer to it as a message from this generation to the next. It’s a way, through the videos, of looking back at how our beauty standards were set and what we can do to change them in the future.

I’m super optimistic about beauty standards today. Most people seem ‘woke’ these days and ready to question the status quo.

It seems like room is gradually being made for alternative ideas of beauty. The standard idea of beauty -- tall, thin, fair, symmetrical -- still dominates and I explore this in my docu-series, Pretty. But at the same time, movements like Pretty Period, the body positivity movement and natural hair movement are all sort of nudging their way through the dominant idea of beauty and expanding the definition.

One of the things my marketing experience and Un-ruly has taught me is that repetition is a powerful thing. Norms and standards get set by being stated -- in some shape or form -- and then repeated over and over again until they're things we’re all used to and think are a natural part of everyday life. Fashion and beauty trends are the best example of this. I remember when thin eyebrows were all the rage. I remember scoffing at the idea of letting my brows grow out or darkening them. Now thick eyebrows are 'everything.’ And part of the reason why is because we get exposed over and over again to images of strong thick eyebrows and every image reinforces the idea that this look is beautiful, even though a couple decades ago it wasn’t.

So I think there are two steps to this: 1) We need to state what we think is beautiful then 2) reinforce that statement through repetition. In terms of making a statement, one of the goals of #Hairties is to get as many voices as possible added to the message. And I’m working on bringing as many of them as possible into a final video. Then we need to share that message. The message shared doesn’t have to be the #Hairties message specifically (although I’d love for it to be shared as much as possible). But constantly exposing yourself to images that reinforce a beauty that you can relate to is an important step in having agency over what standards your adhering to.

Beauty is about exploring all the possibilities of who you are and expressing that, which is why it’s important to question beauty standards because they weren’t necessarily created with the uniqueness of you in mind and as a result can stunt your possibility.
Antonia, Un-ruly.com

I’d like the following generations to know that they are a force to be reckoned with. So much is in our own hands in terms of how we shape the lives we live and what we put out into the world as individuals. An important part of living is learning how to tap into that power.

To the younger generation: explore your beauty.

Beauty is about exploring all the possibilities of who you are and expressing that, which is why it’s important to question beauty standards because they weren’t necessarily created with the uniqueness of you in mind and as a result can stunt your possibility.

Do you have a hair story to tell?

Submit your own personal message and photos for #Hairties here

Read my last interview with Antonia on her series, Pretty