As more and more African American women are embracing our natural, God-given curly hair, our Egyptian sisters are joining the movement. Sisters are boldly and proudly shunning Eurocentric standards of beauty that plague us.
Fighting nature, forcing our hair strands to betray their natural characteristics is ridiculous. I can attest to the countless hours, wasted money, burned scalp, and crocodile tears in search of this quest. I’m positive that women of color can share at least one horror story involving chemical or hot-comb straightening their hair to fit this unrealistic beauty standard.
Every time we betray our natural hair it screams in revolt by reverting back to its natural state, drying out and/or dying while fighting the good fight. I liken it to the line in the movie, Network (1976). When a television anchor, Howard Beale (played by Peter Finch), awakens to the absurdity of the media, he encourages people to, “…get mad.” He tells them to open their windows, stick out their heads and yell, “I’m mad as hell, and I’m not going to take this anymore!”
The curly hair movement in Egypt is chipping away at its long history of Eurocentric beauty standards. At an early age, Egyptian women are strongly encouraged to straighten their hair. Anything less than straight hair is considered messy and unattractive. There’s no place for rough or coarse hair.
They too have said, “Enough!” I am beautiful as I am. My curly hair is beautiful as it naturally spirals, coils, twists and bends joyfully out of my head. It’s a movement of self-love and acceptance. No longer living up to someone else’s standards of beauty, but establishing their own standards of beauty.
As Egyptian women embrace their natural beauty, they turn to the Facebook group, The Natural Hair Addicts. The group encourages members to share their knowledge, tips and products for curly-haired women.
Curly-haired women score another win. On January 13, 2018, Sara Safwat and Nariman el-sadr open Egypt’s first salon for curly hair, The Curly Studio. The Curly Studio’s mission is to help women navigate their natural hair journey. They have two caveats: no heat and no chemicals.
As with any movement, the women endure ostracism from those who seek to keep the status quo, but it’s not stopping them. They forge ahead with the ‘curly hair don’t care’ attitude and embrace their natural beauty.