Women in Egypt have chosen to ditch the European standards of straight hair and embrace their naturally kinky hair.
According to a recent report by news outlet Al-Monitor, curly hair is common among Middle Eastern people, but Egyptians with curls are often regarded as inferior.
The report further revealed that discrimination pushes many people, especially women, to straighten their hair using heat and chemical treatments and to even cover it with wigs.
According to the latest data by the Central Agency for Public Mobilization and Statistics (CAPMAS), the estimated total value of Egypt’s imported wigs, mostly from China, is 3 million Egyptian pounds (around US$190,000), or about 7.5% of Egypt’s total imports from China during the first quarter of 2019.
However, the tide seems to be turning in the North African country, as more beauty salons and online platforms offer services and advice for caring for naturally curly hair.
There is now a culture of curly hair in Egypt.
The rise of social media groups giving advice on taking care of natural hair, as well as publicly fighting against discrimination, has made it possible for women to embrace their curls.
“Curly hair is an identity for us… About 80% of us have curly or wavy hair. But this identity has been obliterated or became indistinct as many people have sought straight hair,” Sara Safwat, founder of the Curly Studio in Egypt and a pioneer in the industry, told Al-Monitor.
The natural-hair movement started about three years ago.
After Safwat opened her hair studio, other groups and hairdressers emerged, rising up against societal beauty standards. Together, they urged more women to accept their natural hair and to feel confident, writes Al-Monitor.
Meanwhile, in South Africa, an advert by national health and beauty retailer Clicks recently stirred up a social uproar for depicting black women’s hair as “dull and dry“ compared with white women’s hair as ”fine and normal“.
– ANA; Editing by Yaron Blecher