I didn’t know what the natural texture of my hair was until I reached 21.
Wearing my hair straight made me feel very confident at the time, simply because it was a characteristic praised in my culture. I am originally from Saudi Arabia where beauty ideals are very westernised.
Straight hair and fair skin are must-haves, to the point where men, alongside their mothers, ask for spouses with straight hair and fairer skin when the marriage has to be arranged.
Everything I am is the opposite of what's considered beautiful over there, and until that day I still hear negative comments about the way I look.
I now live in London where the mentality is completely different.
However, I can still hear unpleasant remarks at work. Colleagues would say things such as “how will you present yourself when you will meet Senior Directors, you and your curly hair?”.
I am still struggling to figure out what the issue with my curls is as I will come with the same brain whether I wear my hair straight or curly.
Such situations taught me that it’s important to push boundaries and encourage people to adapt to the way you look instead of changing who you are for them to feel more comfortable around you.
I see more representation of curly haired women now, but this is not thanks to the mainstream media landscape.
New collectives and independent magazines are playing a strong role in that movement.
Unfortunately, I can't say the same in regards to the representation of Middle Eastern women, as being Middle Eastern is not something that's talked about. And when it happens, we are painted in one stroke.
We are so diverse when it comes to features, mindsets, or even when it comes to the practice of our religion.
This definitely needs to be acknowledged more.