Free the Curls

On identity, biopolitics and hair liberationI must confess. I am a recovering curl denier.Just like many women with curly hair, throughout most of my life I did not accept my hair as it is. At some points I outright hated it and would have given everything I had to make it straight and smooth as all the other girls in my school. In my defense, I grew at the peak of the Avril Lavigne fashion, so by the time I was a teenager the occasional blow drying for 'special occasions' evolved into constant straightening. I still remember the day my mum bought me my first straightener. I was so excited. Finally I was going to get 'the look'.After years of straightening my hair obsessively, I took a break for a short period. During my high school years I 'proudly' recovered my original hair. The curls were back.Sort of.Because even though they became an integral part of my identity back then (to the point that it was part of my nickname) there was an underlying key element that perverted the relationship I still had with my hair. One that would ultimately made me run back to straight hair: discipline. Time to get political. For a long time I assumed it was normal to want straight hair. Who did not ?Having curly hair felt like a curse, a burden I had to fight to finally achieve the ultimate hair beauty standard. All around me, women with straight hair were deemed beautiful, elegant, sophisticated. Women with curly hair? Either non existent or portrayed as witches, hippies who did not try hard enough, who did not take care of themselves, or who simply did not let go of the 80s.In case you have not noticed, in most TV shows, films and real life, women that have curly or slightly wavy hair end up outright straight. Because you know, they grow up to be more beautiful, elegant and respected or whatever…These kind of representations were key on how I came to understand the role of women's hair in society and the expectations of what it meant to have curly hair. By now you are probably asking why I am making such a big fuss about hair. But the issue at stake is bigger that hairstyle. It is about controlling women's bodies. It is about fostering such a feeling of inadequacy that one 'chooses' to impose such self-discipline. Because did not you know having curly hair is unprofessional and could hurt our careers?Foucault would not have a problem calling this phenomenon yet another example of biopolitics. The media and popular culture -energetically supported by a fashion and beauty industry that feeds on "helping you" make the inadequate adequate- have constituted a specific meaning for curly hair. They have created deeply embedded everyday mechanisms through which human processes — in this case how women choose to wear their hair- are governed, managed in other words. We basically live under a 'beauty regime' that imposes its authority over us, it controls our knowledge and understanding about our own hair -straight is good, curly inadequate- and it compels us to act a certain way -straighten it.Want to get more political?Even if now some sort of stylized waves are back in fashion, natural curly hair is still deeply racialized. Here I am talking from my limited experience of living in France and the UK (although in the US is the same) but I dare you to find hair products for curly hair in regular stores. Oh no, curly hair products would eserve' their own shops. Separate places for women who have curly hair means mostly shops for non-white women, because which white women with curly hair does not straighten it already?I have no problems going to a different store, except that the message it keeps sending to women with curly hair is that we do not belong in the mainstream standard of beauty. That we are still 'The Other'. That we have to be 'exotic' to be allowed to exist, and in doing so, it reinforces a deeply rooted hierarchical racial notion on women's beauty. You want an example?When I look for gifs of people with curly hair -because there are not any emojis with curly hair yet, can you believe it? We got vampires, zombies and mermaids, but curly people… why bother?- around 80% of images are of PoC. I do not know if there are statistics to corroborate if it is or not an accurate representation of people with curly hair, but that ultimately is not the point. What is important is that curly hair is systematically undervalued because in the common imaginary of our white patriarchal society, curly hair is associated with PoC. And what happens when we interiorise such racist beauty standards? (Regardless of our race for that matter) We will do whatever it takes and spend as much money as we can chasing the cure for our shortcomings, our defects, a way to find redemption from our original sin of being born with the wrong type of hair.In my now frequent visits to shops for curly-haired people, I see the full weight and power that these feelings of inadequacy directed at WoC. Hair extensions and wigs are the ultimate symbol of beauty and success -and coincidentally a multibillion dollar industry. I mean, it even became something to talk about (and greatly praised) when Black Panther had its entire cast appear with their natural hair. (The first film to do so apparently. In 2018. Seriously.)These racist beauty standards have been deeply absorbed and normalised around the world. Especially in post-colonial countries with a high percentage of mixed raced people where social colonial hierarchies remain alive in their aesthetic, economic and racial tyrannies. From Brazil, Dominican Republic all the way to Mauritania, women are expected to 'fix' their hair. Oh no sorry, 'take care of it'.There are plenty of stories of women getting fired or somehow being discriminated for not disciplining their hair. But I wo not go deeper into this because I am not a WoC so I can not speak of their experiences. My point was that in this highly discriminatory racist beauty regime, WoC are clearly more affected.Finally… The return of the curlsI am not going to lie. Transitioning from years of chemically straightening my hair was extremely difficult. (As all my friends and very patient boyfriend can easily corroborate -if any of you are reading this- I thank you immensely for your constant support.)But what was difficult was not just going through an extremely long period of a 'transitioning hair phase', aka half of my head frizzy and the other dry as a straw, because after years of abuse, my hair was not quick to forgive or forget. Thankfully my mum bought me a lot of hats for that period. (Thanks mum!)What was extremely difficult was rebuilding my identity with curly hair.It was months before I could look at myself in the mirror without feeling that the reflection was not really me. Months before I stopped feeling inadequate, stressed about how it looked, obsessed about controlling it. Months before I felt comfortable enough to have public photos taken.What made me go through this change?I guess we all have our tipping point. For me it was a mix of being tired and wanting to be free. I was tired of spending hundreds of euros buying products to straighten my hair. Tired of having to spend an extra half hour in the mornings getting ready. Tired of being a slave of my straightener. Tired of being in constant panic about the weather. Tired of feeling like an impostor.I wanted to be free. Deep down I knew and felt that what I was doing was not healthy. I kept pretending I was doing it out of choice and style, but one day I could not not see that my struggle was part of a bigger problem. One embedded in our white patriarchal capitalist society.I want to . Not because I do not believe straight hair is beautiful too. But because as everything, what we decide to do with our hair has to be our choice. Not a mandate. I want to because is part of embracing who I am. Because I no longer feel I need to control them (most of the times, again, it's a difficult process and I am still in recovery)Curly people have been denied visibility, are discriminated against, segregated and have been exploited for too long.Enough. Fuck the White Capitalist Patriarchy.I feel really optimistic because stories about women taking back their hair freedom and embracing their curls keep popping up around the world. Social media has played a great role, giving more visibility and empowering communities of women to finally take a stand. It makes me incredibly happy that the 'Curl/Natural Hair Revolution' is on its way thanks to more and more brave women demanding their freedom and pushing for acceptance.The thing that frustrates me now however, is the double standards around it. The Natural Hair Movement (pushed by and for PoC originally) has been around for almost two decades, yet the whole 'Wild Curly Trend Everyone Will be Wearing' is being captured and accepted into the mainstream media and fashion industry by celebrating (surprise surprise) mostly white women with curly hair. Because if they do it, then we can all do it now right?Anyway… the revolution will be won one step at a time

Women: Would you feel bad about wearing hair extensions?

I admire women who can wear them. I guess I am a tom boy (still!) and I wore some for my wedding and took them out the day after. I hated them! I had to do sooooo much work! And it felt like there was a cap on my head at all times. My mom wears them EVERYDAY! Wow. You women are amazing. If I were not married, I would get a low, low hair cut or a frow so I can wake up and go. :).

hair extensions related articles
Wanting to Buy Clip in Hair Extensions for My Short Hair?
What Are the Effects on Hearing of in Ear Headphones?
Philips Lost the Patent Infringement Lawsuit
Hair Loss Causes & Solution
I Need to Start a Mock Business for My Economics Class . How Do I Start?

Copyright © 2020 Concises YuGa Sports | Sitemap