Good hair, bad hair? Black Brazilian women and girls also struggle with this hegemonic ideology

black women Brazil
  “I have hard/nappy hair and I’m beautiful”

Good hair, yes sir!

Brazil is experiencing a peak of racism where prejudice against curly/kinky hair harms women of all ages

by Emanuelle Vanderlei

Carolina is a 12 year old black girl, is and already dreaming of a “escova progessiva (progressive blow dry treatment)”. Her mother asked her why and she replied: “I wanted to be more beautiful. Grace (a woman that drives the school bus) said that the other girls that have messed up hair like mine have done it and they looked great.” Carolina didn’t quite understand, but at such an age she already tries to deny her identity in order escape from one of the worst legacies that is still a part of Brazilian society: racism.

Although few people actually admit the racial prejudice that they harbor, negative comments about curly/kinky hair is open and accepted as if it were natural. In Brazil, still today, it is common to hear people classify someone’s hair by saying “such and such has cabelo ruim (bad hair).”

 
 

In this prejudiced society, the standard of beauty created and imposed by the media exceeds the bounds of common sense. Today, mothers increasingly subject younger and younger girls to new aggressive chemicals procedures, endangering the health of their daughters all to deny the most powerful identity of the origin of the Brazilian population.

Resistance to change is often seen as laziness, lack of vanity. And this influences everything, it’s necessary to carry this all the time, even when in search of employment. Contrary to this, there are those who resist, face racism with creativity and proudly display an afro visual. And the beauty of diversity continues to color the country.

 
 
 

The blog Cabelo crespo é cabelo bom (Curly/kinky hair is good hair): www.cabelocrespoecabelobom.com.br) of the journalist Mariangela Miguel, arose from an indignation, as she stated in the description of her blog:

“After so many years listening to (and also asserting this myself!) that my hair is bad, that curly hair is bad, that girl has bad hair, I got tired. It is true that I never liked straight hair, it just doesn’t look right on me. But the curly hair always frustrated me. I tried everything, flat iron, relaxers, but it is obvious that my curls were never perfect. Of course, in teen years, the frustration is greater. Who doesn’t want to have a fashionable hair style? When your hair only grows up and out, how do you to explain to a 13 year old girl that she can’t even dream of Chanel hair? Who’s to blame? Bad hair. I believed this for many years. Today, after so many experiences (I’ll make a point to tell each one to you), I reached the following conclusion: if my hair was really bad, it could not have handled so many dryers, flat irons and chemicals.”

 
Mariangela Miguel
 

Mariangela’s testimony describes the feelings of thousands of Brazilians. As you know, most of the population is black and has curly/kinky hair. Most don’t think of their hair as beautiful, because they have spent a lifetime hearing that beautiful hair is straight hair. So it’s time to deconstruct these concepts, remember that racism is unacceptable in whatever form it comes, and let the curls dominate the country. Bad hair doesn’t exist, what is bad is prejudice.

This issue of coming to terms with the texture of hair, the classification of African textures hair being “bad” and the experience of racism due to the texture of one’s hair is a daily struggle for black women and black women of mixed ancestry, as many will testify.

Source: Black Women of Brazil

About Marques Travae 2876 Articles
Marques Travae. For more on the creator and editor of BLACK WOMEN OF BRAZIL, see the interview here.

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