Have you ever thought that you might have to immigrate to another country just because of your hair style? It’s not a story happening a thousand years ago but happening now. Eman El-Deeb decided to leave her country, Egypt, to Spain for her hair in 2016. It wasn’t for work, marriage or travel but for hair.
This 26-year-old Egyptian girl with big curly hair currently lives in Spain, where her hair is admired and not longer ridiculed. However, it’s ironic that the people in Egypt seek to emulate European ideals of beauty, so the curly hair is quite unpopular there.
“I never imagined I’d migrate. But I was tired… I reached the point where I felt I wanted to live in a place where my looks do not bother anyone,” says Eman.
In fact, most Egyptian women have naturally curly hair, which is a dominant feature. However, most are forced or volunteer to straighten it from a very early age, in order to fit society’s standard of beauty. Eman says that she had been always mocked for hair by not only acquaintances but also strangers, even in the working environment.
“In the first couple of months of my work at an Egyptian bank, someone from human resources would come and ask me to straighten my hair almost every day.”
Although it seems too extreme that Eman decided to migrate for hair, it’s actually not just for hair but also her pride and self-identity. This decision allowed her in the way she likes without concern, and it will probably resonate with many women in Egypt.
Thus, when a Facebook group, Hair Addict, was launched in March 2016 to help women take care of their hair naturally, the response was unexpected huge. Doaa Gawish , a 38-year-old Egyptian woman, launched this group because she herself had been suffering for hair for long time, so had her daughter. As an engineer at an American company, Doaa had constantly straightened her curly hair since she was a child. Calling herself a “nerd,” she knew the heat hurt the hair and started to gather some information about how to diminish the side-effects of endless heating.
After accumulating bunch of knowledge, she wanted to share the information she knew which was useful for those women who always straight their hair in a group on Facebook. Today, it has got more than 105,000 female members in two years.
In the beginning, the members just shared their hair-care routines, and soon the group took a bolder step of going completely heat-free in July 2016.
Hair Addict has been a big success, and society starts to have much more awareness about different beauty of women’s hair, developing a new trend of curly hair. As a result of growing, the first curly hair salon in Egypt, The Curly Studio, opened this year.
Even Eman felt there is something different in Egypt.
“In April 2017, while I was visiting Egypt, a taxi driver told me ‘your hair is very nice.’ At first I thought he was being sarcastic. But then I realised he was being sincere.
“That was the first positive comment about my hair that I had ever heard in Egypt.”
Hair does matter to a person. In fact, to those black women who have been always asked to straight their hair, hair is a symbol of pride.