This month, Naturally Curly and The Curl Talk Project are partnering to explore the link between natural hair and the notions of identity, femininity, diversity, race and representation.
Six ladies will share their experiences, from Germany to the UK these women reveal what it means to be a curly-haired woman in a society where beauty standards are otherwise. Discover their stories below.
You are French and live in Copenhagen, tell us how curls are perceived over there?
I am not sure how they are perceived but what I know is that there are not represented at all. It started to change last year and not because brands are now aware of the importance of diversity but because it’s a trend. Therefore, it’s difficult for me to find this very authentic.
Interestingly, my hair will be perceived differently when I am out with my black friends rather than when I am hanging out with my white friends. Often, the black group that we form leads people to be very interested in us and curious about the way we look, especially our hair.
What was it like growing up with curly hair?
I never really experienced life with my curly hair until now as I got it relaxed from a young age to prevent people to tease me at school. I remember classmates throwing things in it for fun, which was very frustrating for the younger me. It simply made me feel too different from them.
Do you feel there is a connection between femininity and how you feel about your hair?
There is a connection but I don’t believe femininity only comes from our hair. Some men will have long hair and look very masculine, some women will have very short hair which doesn’t make them less feminine. For me the connection to femininity is more linked to what’s inside of us, our personality and character.
Why is natural hair so strongly linked to identity?
Our hair, the way we take care of it, what we create with it is deeply ingrained in our culture as black women. It’s part of us and therefore is a clear representation of our cultural heritage. It’s through my hair that I progressively became connected to my mother’s ethnicity.
What has your experience been like wearing your natural hair to work?
I am an artist/freelance designer which means that I am not evolving in a corporate environment at all. I am free to wear my hair however I like and never had to face any issue because of it.
What has been the most challenging moments of your hair journey?
The big chop was a very hard thing for me to experience. I couldn’t do much with my hair, couldn’t put it in a bun… However my hair grew quite quickly so I didn’t have to experience it for too long. I progressively gained my confidence back.
What advice would you give to women struggling to embrace their curls?
Work on yourself and try to accept who you are as a person first. The hair acceptance will come afterwards. Once you reached that point, experimenting with a diverse range of products is important too as it helps you understand what your hair does and doesn’t like and what routine is appropriate.
What does your natural hair represent?
Pride. My afro hair is versatile and is something I inherited from my mother. I couldn’t be prouder to have this on my head. The number of things we can do with it is very broad, I wouldn’t change this for the world.
Read more stories of The Curl Talk Project here.