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 France 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 love surfing and practice regularly, tell us how curls are perceived in the surf world?
I don’t think people actually have a perception of curls simply because there aren’t many women with textured hair in the surf industry. It is just not on their radar. The images that dominate mainstream surf media continue to be women with straight, blonde long hair. I think sometimes people think I can’t surf because I don’t fit that stereotype. There is a strong lack of representation in the surf world, of curls, but also of women of colour in general. When I am in the water I still hear questions such as: “Does your hair get wet?”
What was it like growing up with curly hair?
I am mixed-race, black and Asian and grew up in a predominantly white area where people were incredibly curious about what my hair was doing! I would change my hair often which generated a lot of comments and looks which made me feel uncomfortable. Growing up, getting in the water was something that wasn’t really encouraged, mainly because of the impact it would have on my hair. I ended up internalizing these ideas, but I am glad this didn’t stop me from eventually discovering surfing. I always wanted to surf, but I had this fear of the ocean and was often thinking about what it would mean for my hair.
Do you feel there is a connection between femininity and how you feel about your hair?
For sure. However growing up in a place where you don’t see people with natural hair portrayed as beautiful is what led me and many other girls to think that we weren’t good enough! This is why the natural hair movement is so important, as it showcases diversity and beauty in all its forms!
Why is natural hair so strongly linked to identity?
Hair has always been part of our culture as black women. Like many parts of black culture, we took something perceived as negative by society and created beautiful and versatile styles. It represents hours in the beauty shop forming community and for me a bond I share with my mother in the kitchen as she did my hair. Learning to care for my hair is something my mother passed down to me and that I will pass down to my daughters.
What has your experience been like wearing your natural hair to work?
People are very curious about it. I’ve been mistaken for co-workers I don’t look like at all sometimes, simply because of the hair type we have.I would say that in general people accept my hair but I am aware that I will most of the time hear comments about the way it looks, whether I want it or not. I am learning to get used to it.
What has been the most challenging moments of your hair journey?
Finding a hairdresser who was able to understand my hair texture, my curl pattern and not chastise me for surfing everyday. Living in a small coastal beach town makes it hard because there aren’t many stylist that truly understand textured hair. Finding someone who listened to my needs and wasn’t a two hour drive away was very important. I can’t count the number of bad haircuts I’ve had!
What advice would you give to women struggling to embrace their curls?
Have patience and try not to compare yourself to other women you see on the internet. Your journey is different from anyone else’s. You will create your own routine and your hair will thank you for that.
What does your natural hair represent?
Freedom, peace of mind, and self-acceptance.
What are your holy grails?
Surfing has really forced me to simplify my hair routine I also found a hairstylist @kiafaystyles that helped me do that and recommends great products. Traveling with a board bag and one backpack limits what you can bring on a trip and I wanted to fuss less over my hair and have more time in the ocean!
In the shower I use Wash Day Wonder by DevaCurl to get those salty tangles out. Deep Sea Repair by DevaCurl, it’s really a mask but since I have daily exposure to salt water which tends to be dehydrating this helps keep my hair moisturized. If I wash my hair I use AG Balance Shampoo and lastly I use a leave in to style and my ultimate holy grail Uncle Funky’s Daughter Curly Magic.
Read more stories of The Curl Talk Project here.