Note from BW of Brazil: In many ways these are some very exciting times in Brazil! In terms of black identity, racial pride and the acceptance of afro textured hair, we are seeing more groups, projects, exhibitions, plays, seminars, etc. than we’ve ever seen in Brazil’s history! Of course, this only makes sense as since the colonization of the land that would later become known as Brazil, descendants of Africa have always been taught to have shame in their pele escura (dark skin), cabelo crespo (kinky/curly hair) and traços afros (African features).
The reality is that even with many years of organizing and the promotion of black pride/identity in campaigns by the organizations connected to the Movimento Negro (black movement), there are still millions of Brazilians of visible African ancestry who have shame in defining themselves as negros and negras and do everything they can to diminish their connection to the Motherland. From the insistence of never letting anyone see their natural kinks and curls to identifying themselves as pardos (brown/mixed), morenos (brown/mixed) and mestiços (mixed race) to dreaming of having less clearly black children, Brazil’s anti-black indoctrination is still a powerful influence on the hearts and minds of many of its citizens. But as we can see, change is always possible and one never knows how many will eventually open their minds and embrace their Africanity. For this is exactly what the women who took part in the photo session featured in today’s post sought to do!
(Note: The exhibition of the photos took place last Saturday, June 11th)
Exhibition explores the role of hair in the identity of the black women
Exhibition “Raízes” (Roots), of student Sophia Costa, has the objective of showing that the hair is, in addition to an aesthetic element, also a political discourse
By Pedro Alves
Whoever sees the student Sophia Costa, 21, proudly displaying her cabelo afro (afro hair), can’t imagine how different her look was. Straightening, relaxing and visits to the salon were part of the young woman’s weekly routine. Since 14 years, she did everything to make her hair straight because she considered it more beautiful that way.
Three years ago, however, everything changed: “In college, I began to see other girls with cabelo afro and they inspired me. Today, my reference of beauty is completely different and I’m very proud of my black hair,” she says.
With the desire of representing this process of transition and acceptance through which many garotas negras (black girls) go through, Sophia decided to do the photographic exhibition “Raízes” (meaning “roots”), that has as its objective to show the hair’s role in the construction of the black woman’s identity. In the photos, 12 models represented deusas, rainhas e guerreiras (goddesses, queens and warriors), always with their hair in evidence.
The project was born as a final project for the advertising course that Sophia did at the University of Brasília (UnB). However, it has gained greater proportions: in addition to the release, which takes place this Saturday (11/6), in the Espaço Co-Piloto, the exhibition will also be displayed at the Terraço Shopping (Terraço Mall) from June 24th to July 3rd.
The idea for the project came from the desire to represent in the final work the transformations experienced at UnB, “I wanted my TCC to be connected to my personal experience at college and hair transition was one of the most important moments of this period,” says Sophia. The photos were taken over two weekends, with university equipment and the help of many friends and partners.
At the end of the process, Sophia want to show that, besides being an aesthetic element, the hair also plays an important role in the definition of the black woman: “When I came to wear my original hair, my whole world view changed, and this process is not only individual but also collective. When the black woman discovers the true strength of her hair, she empowers herself.”