Did you know that behind every hairstyle there’s a story? I, as a woman wasn’t fully aware of that. At first, I wanted to write a piece about pressure that sociocultural and religious groups put on women to conform to certain looks such as ways to dress and to style their hair.
On the go I lead the discussion towards hairstyles and women freedom since we often learned that some religions compel women to cover their hair whereas other women can choose to cover their hair as a fashion style. In Brazil, the Dominican Republic, and many other Latin American countries, we heard a lot about the importance of hairstyles to the point that women feel the need to straighten their hair to land a job.
Still today, blonde women are justifying themselves about ‘not being dumb’. However, a significant percentage of white women have recently dyed their hair blonde. A study found that blonde women were more attractive to the opposite sex while brunette was portrayed as competent, attractive, and arrogant and red-haired women were depicted as ‘fiery’.
Does that explain the rise of fake blonde-colored hairstyles?
On another note, western women’s hair has been compared to veiling. An article on The Guardian explains that female westerners spend ‘serious’ time and money on their hairstyle. And why? Because women’s hair is a symbol of ‘feminist issue’. The article argues that women’s endeavour to keep their hair neat and stylish is ‘largely’ dictated by men.
Is veiling a form of male power and religious pressure on Muslim women or female easterners?
There is a misconception related to women’s look especially to their hair. While many would say that veiling one’s hair is a sign of weakness or submission others might consider wearing blond hair as a sign of stupid personality or interpret read hair as a sign of female violence.
With the progression of the ‘natural hair‘ movement a black woman wearing straight hair can be portrayed as being in denial of her cultural identity. Similarly, it seems that there is a peculiar curiosity around the phenomenon of ‘nappy hair’.
What I didn’t know is how much meaning a simple hairstyle can carry. While producing this blog I’ve learned that women color their hair, wear different haircuts and hairstyles for different reasons. I collected the testimonies of women from several countries and the result is nothing I was expected.
It’s not just fashion! For some, it’s about culture, identity and embracing who you really are. For others, a new hairstyle means feeling good in your body. Certain women take it as far as a matter of life and death.
The responses were so unexpected and diverse that I decided to turn this blog into a March-long project to discuss female culture, identity, and freedom throughout this Woman History Month. Therefore, more women are coming on board and new testimony will rise as a way to enhance the discussion.
The main objective is to encourage a conversation on the reasons women choose certain looks and hairstyles over others. It’s neither wise nor intelligent to criticize someone before you can walk in their shoes or at least learn about the story of their life.
Meet these women to whom hairstyling is very meaningful.
A lover of books, music and culture who is amazed by nature, beauty and positive energy, Marie-Ange is an interpreter and a translator in her professional life. She is narrating her hairstyling story as a black woman living in the Dominican Republic.
The message that was generally conveyed in my surroundings was that kinky hair was ‘‘low class, unattractive, unprofessional and unhygienic’’. This message did not align with my beliefs about my hair. I felt the need to keep it in its natural state to show beauty and acceptance. I have been yelled at in the streets to ‘’ go comb my bird’s nest’’. So, it often felt like keeping my hair in its kinkiest state was an act of defiance.
Find her incredible story here.
Medical doctor, master’s student in Public health, Rachel is a caring mom, sister and daughter who currently lives in the USA. This native of Haiti is an enthusiastic advocate of the ‘natural hair‘ movement, but she believes even more in women’s freedom to choose.
I think the most important thing for a woman is to love and embrace herself. It could mean for some to have natural hair, permed hair, no hair at all. As long as this is what she wants and she is putting herself first in her choices, it’s ok.
Find her moving testimony here.
Carolina is a mom, a lawyer, and a woman who refutes the idea of a standard of beauty as she believes every woman is unique. She currently resides in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil.
As there is a great ethnic and cultural diversity in Brazil each woman makes changes according to their culture and social group. The truth is that there is no standard of beauty. Each woman is unique and has her own characteristics.
Check out her inspiring testimony here.
Lucette is a traveling expert, a mom, and a woman who firmly believes that there is no such thing as a standard beauty. She currently lives in Miami, Florida, USA.
I feel that my hair is an extension of myself, so I do my very best to keep it neat and beautiful at all times. I love my hair!
Find out more about her inspiring testimony here.
Bing is a communication professional and a Chinese writer who lives in Mississauga, Ontario. She believes in woman’s freedom to style their hair as desired, but with a slight reservation.
I do not change my hairstyle very often; I only change when I consider that it works best for me. Life is hard already; I don’t want the long hair to get in the way adding on difficulty.
Read more on this remarkable testimony here.
Belinda is a marketing professional to whom hairstyles should match clothing choices. She resides in Petionville, Haiti.
My hair looks depend on my clothes because each outfit requires a hairstyle that goes with it. I feel good when I wear different styles of hair because it’s consistent with my personality, my professional position and the image I want to project.
Read her interesting testimony here.
Magdalena is a model and university student from New York city, USA. she is narrating her journey to the path of natural hair as a model.
Life is about living and loving. It’s not about judging one another about whose hair is better than the next. It’s about embracing all parts of us, and accepting each other for who we are and what we choose to do with our hair or anything else for that matter. As long as we are not harming others in the process then we should be free to do anything that we desire.
Find out more here about her incredible story.
Miguelita is a politician, a mom, a nurse, and an advocate of black women causes. She currently resides in Miami, Florida, USA.
Black women are afraid to be different, and are motivated by the easy going like and look of others. It is a misconception of beauty.
Click here to see her full testimony.
Olga is a Canadian business woman, owner at Argeny and a marketing professional. She believes in the relationship between hairstyle and cultural identity. She lives in Ottawa, ON, Canada.
For me, changing hairstyles is like changing clothes….People can express themselves with the clothes they wear; I like to also express myself with my hair.
More on this interesting testimony here.
Rhodie is a business woman, owner of Asesora de Imagen, a business located in Santo Domingo, Dominican Republic where she currently lives. She is also an actress and a model. Her story is one that might bring tears to your eyes.
… I decided to open my Image Consultant Business where my goal is to help people to accept their own nature (Afro, Caucasians, Spanish…) and be happy with it. At this point my little girl was 4 years old and was beginning to suffer bullying for her skin tone and afro hair, so I decided to go natural.
Discover this poignant story here.
Rose-Lourdes is an administrative professional and a business woman. She believes in woman’s freedom to choose whatever style they feel good about. However, her path through hairstyling is quite unique.
On my doctor’s recommendation, I change my hairstyle to avoid health problem . So I went natural.
Read the full story here.
Sara is a dedicated mom, and a nursing expert who currently lives in New York City, United States. She is a firm believer in women’s freedom to choose their hairstyle without being pressured. She says it all with a passionate and straightforward tone.
I believe Hair is like a person’s crown the next thing someone sees after they see your face. It may represent who you are… there’s nothing like freedom…. freedom to choose to wear your hair how you please without judgment from others.
Read this impressive and straightforward testimony here.