Black Women of Brazil

The site dedicated to Brazilian women of African descent

“Is that people hair?”, “You have bad hair because you want it!: In photo campaign, black university students denounce racist comments about their hair


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Note from BW of Brazil: If you haven’t figured it out by now, let me let you in on a not so secret secret: Brazil doesn’t like natural, kinky/curly black hair. For centuries, the standard of beauty adapted in Brazil is that of the European standard. As such, anything that falls short of straight hair is automatically condemned as “cabelo ruim”, meaning ‘bad hair’. Numerous posts on the very blog discuss the process that many women and men must go through before they can accept their natural hair. Women have used powerful chemicals from an early age that were so powerful that hey sometimes saw their hair fall out. Men have long resorted to using ‘maquina 0’, meaning wearing their hair very closely shaven or bald to avoid harassment. Recently, a group of black university students took a stand against this anti-black dictatorship of beauty in a photo campaign denouncing the many negative comments they’ve heard in relation to their hair. Check the pix below. 

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“Your hair must not even get wet it’s so bad!”

‘Is that people’s hair?’: University students denounce racism in photo essay

“There is no such thing as crespo. What you have is really hard hair!”

By Amauri Terto

“The intention of the project is not to devalue straight hair or to judge whoever straightens, but to show that there is more than one kind of beauty.”

Is that people’s hair?

Cabelo bonito é cabelo liso (Beautiful hair is straight hair), since always!

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“How do you wash it?”

Thank you for taking part in our selection, but your hair draws too much attention for this job vacancy.

These were some phrases that students of the Journalism course at the Centro Universitário Toledo (Unitoledo), in Araçatuba, in the interior of the state of São Paulo, have heard about their cabelos cacheados e crespos (curly and kinky/curly hair) at some point in their lives.

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“Nowadays, people have bad hair because they want to! After all, any salon straightens.”

In order to propose a reflection on standards of beauty and the perpetuation of racism through abusive comments, students of the institution carried out a photographic essay titled, “Que Cabelo é Esse” (What kind of hair is that)?

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“Ask your son to cut that! He’s even a handsome guy, but that hair is ridiculous!!!”

In all, 37 students posed proudly with their cabelos crespos and Afro hairstyles. In the pictures, they share derogatory phrases they’ve heard about their hair that they’ve heard at home, school, work or on the street.

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“Change it, man! That’s not people’s hair!”

Here are some pictures from the photo session:

Fabrícia Lopes Rocha, Professor of Opinionated Journalism at Unitoledo, was the one that coordinated the photo shoot, which originated after her contact with a report on the increase in the number of people who were assuming their natural hair.

“Some years ago, this type of hair didn’t appear in colleges and in the society. There was a kind of dictatorship of straightening. The world is changing, the diversity of what is beautiful is being debated, including by the media,” she comments.

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“There’s no such thing as kinky/curly. What you have is really hard hair!”

For the professor, the result of the work is shocking and makes people think about the prejudices naturalized in the routine of the Brazilians.

“We need to reflect on our actions and to evolve as human beings,” she said. “It is necessary to have more empathy for the other. The intention of the project is not to devalue straight hair or to judge whoever straightens and to show that there is more than one kind of beauty.”

Source: Huff Post Brasil

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