n Brazil, flattening irons have fallen by the wayside as more and more women choose to embrace their curls and kinks.
For Cassia Marinho, owner of the Iporinché salon in Rio de Janeiro, the growing popularity of natural hair speaks to more than just an aesthetic trend – she says it’s about the empowerment of black Brazilian women, who have been long been marginalized in Brazilian society. “In our salon, there has always been a mission to strengthen self-esteem and the idea of black beauty,” she said. “The first thing I say to my clients is: your hair is pretty. You don’t need to use a chemical process.”
Brazil, the last country in the western world to abolish slavery, still struggles with racial inequality. In 2011, the census showed that over half of Brazil’s population identified as black or mixed race, but in 2012, only 6.3% of young #AfroBrazilians were enrolled in higher education. Amnesty International reported that of the 30,000 young people who are killed each year in Brazil, 77% are black. But in the last decade, the black movement for justice and equality has gathered force. “To construct one’s black identity in Brazil, the first step is accepting your characteristics,” said Luana da Costa Fonseca, a 25-year-old student. Fonseca moved to Rio to attend the Pontifical Catholic University (PUC), and started questioning her hair-straightening habit after joining a student group for #BlackBrazilians. “The women who have natural hair, who have gone through a transition, who have stopped straightening, I think this is the first step for facing racism.” On the streets of Rio, Brazilian women flaunt their natural hair in a variety of styles – from rasta braids, which weave colored fibers into the hair, to dreadlocks and afros. Another common style features tight curls with golden highlights on the tips.
Hair has long been a tool of political expression, from the Black Panthers of the 1960s to the Natural Hair Movement, which was born in the US in 2001 and now exists in over 30 countries. Brazil, too, witnessed a similar trend in the 1930s, 60s and 70s.
#PanAfricanism #BlackNationalism #BlackEmpowerment #AfricanEmpowerment #AfricanAndProud #BlackAndProud