Black Women of Brazil

The site dedicated to Brazilian women of African descent

Always told to straighten or keep their hair short, young blacks ignore stigmatization, are abandoning chemicals & sharing tips for maintaining natural looks


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Jhonata, Everton and Gabriela show off their natural tresses

Note from BW of Brazil: It can’t be stressed enough. Afro textured hair is one of the principal characteristics of African ancestry that has long been rejected and ridiculed by Brazilian society, by whites as well as blacks themselves. But nowadays, in a number of cities across the country, one can note an (r)evolution in concepts of what is considered “acceptable” or even beautiful in terms of hair. For decades, young Afro-Brazilian men were told to keep their pixaim (nappy) hair very closely cropped or even bald in order to avoid ridicule or being considered “uncivilized”. Similarly, young black women are often raised in a culture that believes it necessary that they straighten out their kinks and curls in order to be considered attractive. Numerous black women (and men) have shared their stories of how they came to finally accept the hair they were born with and the empowerment they felt in doing so. That is the same feeling one gets after reading about this same process of young Afro-Brazilians in today’s story. 

Young blacks are abandoning hair chemicals and sharing tips for maintaining natural looks

By Nathália Marsal

On the streets, it’s possible to notice that the chapinha (flat iron) and escova (Brazilian Keratine Hair Treatment)) are increasingly being left to the side. High, bulky, cacheado (curly) and crespos (kinky/curly) hair has gained ground on the heads of those who decided to assume their natural hair. But the process of abandoning the chemical and betting on the trend is not so easy. It takes patience and even knowing how to excuse prejudiced eyes. Actress Gabriela Diniz, 18, underwent a capillary transition five years ago, when the style was still not fashionable, and was bullied at school.

“The standard was cabelo liso (straight hair). They tried to discourage me, but I had friends who supported me and said that I was beautiful,” she remembers.

The young woman from Campo Grande (Neighborhood in Rio) straightened her hair as a child and decided to adopt a new look to enter the Foco Escola de Teatro (theatre school). At the time, she made a cut that removed all the chemicals from her locks – the Big Chop – and left her with only three fingers of length. The change had positive results, such as reducing the expenses that previously amounted to R$200 per month – today, it’s no more than R$80 to buy moisturizing shampoo and conditioner.

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Gabriela saw her hair grow (Photo: Rafael Moraes)

Gabriela moisturizes twice a week and also takes other precautions, such as sleeping on a satin pillowcase to prevent frizz and prevent her hair from tangling. The result of such commitment is hair growth: Eight months after her getting rid of straighteners, the length was already below her shoulder, which had never happened.

“I didn’t know what it was to have cabelo cacheado (curly hair), because my mother always straightened mine. So, I was very anxious to see it big. I was surprised when it finally grew,” reveals the young woman that combs her hair strand by strand while still in the bath.

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Everton Almeida poses pleased with his hair poses (Photo: Rafael Moraes)

Friends Everton Almeida, 21, and Jhonata Carvalho, 22, also liberated their strands to get into drama school. Just as with Gabriela, the new look helped the two not only to bring life to characters but also it reaffirmed their convictions. Secure of the choice he made, Everton still hears his mother’s requests to cut his hair.

“She always thought I had to leave my head bald. But this change increased my self-esteem and brought me an identity that I didn’t have. Sometimes people feed a vision that everyone should be equal, but it’s not quite like this,” says the actor and English teacher, who hydrates his hair and only untangles it with wide combs.

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Jhonata Carvalho adopted a cut inspired by basketball players (Photo: Rafael Moraes)

With a cut inspired by the American style, Jhonata believes in the power of retiring the use of chemicals. Seven years ago, he decided to change his look and today, believes he’s a model for others. He recalls that he admired actors and musicians who showed off their natural locks, but due to family pressure, straighten out the curls.

“This type of hair was very stigmatized, and we can change this view,” he defends.

Partner and founder of Instituto Beleza Natural (Natural Beauty Institute), hairdresser Zica warns that curly tresses require special attention. Hydration twice a week is important to give shine and softness to the strands of whoever is in capillary transition or have already gone through the process. The expert says that the best option for those who want to change is to make a radical cut, like Gabriela:

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Evelyn Cristina primps her hair (Photo: Rafael Moraes)

“It’s good because the person assumes him/herself immediately. During the growth, the person can dare and learn how you prefer wearing their hair, trying barrettes and turbans or leaving it loose. Only it’s not worth tying it down wet as this damages (the hair).”

The receptionist Evelyn Cristina, 25, and resident of Campo Grande, already feels accomplished with her ongoing transition:

“I have always admired those who have this look and I think, now, it helps compose my style.”

SourceNova em Pauta

2 comments on “Always told to straighten or keep their hair short, young blacks ignore stigmatization, are abandoning chemicals & sharing tips for maintaining natural looks

  1. anisioluiz2008
    October 1, 2016

    Reblogged this on O LADO ESCURO DA LUA.

  2. jrk3150
    October 2, 2016

    Excelente, gosto muito desses aconticementos e transformações!

    (Just a note: “underwent a capillary transition” sounds a bit strange in English; capillary = little blood vessel [vasinho sangüíneo] in English. Maybe “hairstyle”? Otherwise, a great piece.)

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