Images courtesy of The Curl Talk Project

The Curl Talk Project is an exhibition of curly-haired women and their experiences which seeks to show just how beautiful every curl, atop every head, is. Curated by Parisian-Londoner Johanna Yaovi since 2017, the project features images and stories of over 100 women from across the globe. In a society where straight locks are considered the default standard of beauty, texture is often seen as subversive. This ‘portfolio of experiences’ draws connections between hair, identity, feminity, race and representation to reframe this narrative in celebration of women and their curly tresses.

I use my hair to dismantle decades of negative messaging and wrong ideas coming from my family or society itself: black hair doesn't grow, black hair can't be beautiful unless it's long with loose curls.

There are so many versions of beauty that aren’t showcased to the public. Not seeing diversity can be very damaging, especially for younger generations. Many women struggle with regards to their hair, but we need to understand that there is a reason why our hair has been given to us the way it is. Loving it can be difficult when you don’t know how to take care of it but this is a journey we have to get into, it’s nothing but a learning experience.

In Martinique, people's perceptions of my hair vary a lot. Many are bothered by my afro and feel uncomfortable around me because of it. It almost looks like my hair is nothing but a violent and aggressive expression of my personality and identity for them. Sometimes people are looking at my hair rather than my face when speaking to me. I can't help but find it strange, rude and frustrating.

Having curly hair doesn’t necessarily mean that you are meant to have a conflictual relationship with it. My parents played a strong role in my hair acceptance journey as they always told me how great my hair is and explained why relaxing it wasn’t an option. The reason for this was quite simple: my hair is part of me and altering it would alter the essence of my identity.

Several years ago, a French haircare brand launched a marketing campaign called ‘stop curly hair’. What better word to define this than upsetting? Can you imagine how harmful these marketing choices can be to young curly girls who try to convince themselves that what they have on their heads is ok?

The Curl Talk Project is running from 6th to 9th March at Hoxton 253 Gallery, Whitmore Estate, N1 5LG.

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