Afro Brazilian men No Longer Shaving Their Heads to Hide kinks and curls

Afro Brazilian men No Longer Shaving Their Heads to Hide kinks and curls

Afro Brazilian men No Longer Shaving Their Heads to Hide kinks and curls

Marcos Ribeiro Afro Brazilian men No Longer Shaving Their Heads to Hide kinks and curls
Photo: Marcos Ribeiro (Afro Brazilian men No Longer Shaving Their Heads to Hide kinks and curls)

Note from BW of Brazil: The title about says it all. In reality, many aspects of Afro-Brazilian life are becoming politicized. And if you’ve followed the history you’d have to agree that this makes total sense. In a country in which rockin’ natural kinks and curls in a large afro could get you snatched off the streets, both in the past and still today, black hair IS political. It says I will no longer shave my head as close to the scalp as possible because my hair texture doesn’t fit into your European standard.

In reality, seeing so many preto e pardo (black and brown) men experimenting with a variety of hair styles these days owes much to Afro-Brazilian women deciding to throw away their straightening irons and chemical products in order to accept their hair as it naturally grows. What we’ve seen in the past decade or so with black Brazilians is in some ways reminiscent of what we saw in black American communities of the late 1960s/early 1970s and maybe again in the 1990s. 

Beyond simply seeing such a wide variety of hairstyles, the stories of how black Brazilian men and women came to accept their hair and begin to wear it however they pleased are worthy of a documentary as this represents a real change of aesthetics in Brazil. Below, 27-year old Vagner shares his story of not even knowing what his own hair texture looked like to growing his hair out regardless of the crooked looks and racist comments he heard. 

Afro Brazilian men No Longer Shaving Their Heads to Hide kinks and curls
Afro Brazilian men No Longer Shaving Their Heads to Hide kinks and curls

Gone are the days when men shaved their heads to hide their curly hair

“Taking on kinky or curly hair is not simply aesthetic. It’s a form of protest, of becoming even more black!”

Get to know the story of Vagner who, at the age of 27, took a courageous journey to rediscover his origins and assume his roots. He said goodbye to the old clippers!

Kinky/curly hair and childhood

How many black men with cabelo crespo who don’t wear shaved heads did you know in your childhood and adolescence? Today it may even be easier to find men with their kinky or curly hair exposed around. Due to all the black empowerment movement in recent years. However, it is recurrent in the lives of these people to grow up without even knowing their own hair texture… And it was no different with Vagner: “It’s very common for us, black men and boys, to have our hair shaved since they were children,” he reported and continued: “We already grow up with shaved hair, in fact, we don’t even know how our hair looks.”

Have you ever thought about spending your whole life without even knowing your own hair? Something that should be so natural, but in reality those who have kinky or curly hair it is not! For there are cruel standards of beauty imposed by the society in which we live.

Afro Brazilian men No Longer Shaving Their Heads to Hide kinks and curls
Afro Brazilian men No Longer Shaving Their Heads to Hide kinks and curls

Kinky/curly hair and representativeness

Today Vagner is 29 years old and recalls the lack of representation of black male figures. With their hair showing, in the media or even in everyday life, it made him believe that there was only one way to wear his curly hair, that there was no room for other options: “We grow up this way because we think it has to be this way, because we don’t see on TV or anywhere else black men and boys with big hair or even with only two little fingers long. There are none, you can’t,” he said, a man who, besides being a journalist, works as a marketing analyst.

Due to this lack of references around him, Vagner never questioned himself when he was younger because things had to be that way: “When we are children, there is still the excuse that we cannot have big hair because it is more difficult to take care, because of lice and such,” reflected Vagner and added: “So, we never questioned ourselves about this before. When we saw another black boy or man he always had his head shaved too.”

For Vagner, a question was decisive so that not only he, but thousands of other men started to let their curly hair grow: “the fact that women started to assume their natural hair, curls and afros, helped a lot for us, men, we started accepting our hair too,” he said.

In other words, according to the journalist, seeing women taking on their natural hair textures was inspiring for boys and men to put aside the clippers and allow their hair to grow.

Vagner said that this movement of empowerment of kinky and curly hair is so strong and evident that you can see that even brands started to look at the male audience: “I remember when I started thinking about letting my hair grow and I would buy some product for kinky or curly hair, there were always women on the packaging and today there are already men on the cover of these products,” he recalled and concluded: “not that it makes any difference between the male and female product, it’s just so that we can understand how the question of the rise of self-care for the black man also came to the eyes of brands.”

Situations like this led Vagner to believe that a change in standard was taking place in terms of society’s behavior. “I realized that there was a questioning about the issue of being a black man with kinky/curly hair.”

He also said that he was very impacted by his friends. For they were also growing out their hair: “I started to get curious and thought ‘what would it be like if I left my hair a little bigger?’

cabelo-crespo-4-630x630
Afro Brazilian men No Longer Shaving Their Heads to Hide kinks and curls

Assuming my curly hair

The journalist said that at the beginning he was very insecure to continue with this idea. For he had spent his entire life with a shaved head: “I thought I was going to look ridiculous, ugly, that it wasn’t for me.”

Vagner was ashamed that people saw his natural curly hair. That’s because society’s prejudice against this type of hair has always existed. Therefore, it is a prejudice rooted in a racist culture.

For this reason, even taking this step of letting his hair grow, he made a decision: “I let my hair grow a little and relaxed it,” he revealed and continued: “People asked if I had straightened and I said no because I was ashamed to say that my hair was not that way. ”
He says that he really wanted to grow his hair out. However, he was afraid to see hair he didn’t like. Besides, of course, feeling ashamed, that’s why he relaxed it.

“Then, there was a day when I thought: ‘Man, I don’t have to relax, if I want to see my hair as it is! I can’t go through anything to interfere in this process.” At that moment, Vagner decided that he wouldn’t put any more chemicals in his hair and let it grow naturally.

“I wasn’t adapting when I saw my hair in the mirror. And, people at work or somewhere else said: ‘why don’t you put such and such in it or dry it like such?’, they started to palpitate.” That is, in addition to dealing with a very difficult task of deconstructing the fears and insecurities that society itself has placed within him for years. Vagner still had to live with comments to racist attitudes: “It was visible that people were uncomfortable with MY hair. They even went so far as to feel entitled to comment on how THEY would like to see MY hair.”

cabelo-crespo-1-630x630
Afro Brazilian men No Longer Shaving Their Heads to Hide kinks and curls

Insecurity when assuming natural hair

Judgment and insecurity are a very dangerous combination for those who are going through a delicate phase in life. How to assume your origins in this way. It was then that this combo managed to topple Vagner, who gave up at that moment. “I shaved my hair for good and thought: ‘I don’t want to grow it out any more’ and this is not just because of me, because I don’t recognize myself in the mirror, but because there were a lot of people wanting to give an opinion about my hair,” he said.

In addition, he even said that he didn’t know how to handle or care for his own strands. After all, it was all very new! He had never done any of that: “I watched a tutorial on the internet and I even bought a sponge once to rub in my hair and leave it curly, but it didn’t work.”

The racism and prejudice of an entire society overthrew Vagner. But he didn’t stay on the floor long and tried to get up quickly. “About two or three months later I thought, ‘I’m going to give myself a second chance.’ As I had shaved my head, everything I had done with the relaxer ended up coming out and it started growing as it is.”

How to deal with racism

Of course, getting up and resisting was not an easy task for Vagner. Just as it is not for thousands of other men and women who are going through the same situation. “It was difficult because, despite being a man and having the freedom to do a lot, I am a black man. Despite being gay, I am a black man. Many things are expected of the black man, such as virility, for example.”

He explained that when someone starts to break with these stipulated standards, like not shaving their head and actually having hair, they start to be seen with different eyes, and that’s what happened to him. “I received judging looks, criticism, people saying that I looked better with shaved hair. I moved on!”

“I was letting my hair grow, learning to deal with it, to recognize it, and also to realize that not everything that a person with kinky or curly person wears will work for my hair too,” he explained.

After all, each hair is different and has its own particular characteristics. So it’s always important to remember that you don’t have to give up if the products that a person with hair like yours does not work for you. Be patient and look for other products, methods and techniques that work with your locks. Don’t give up!

How Vagner deals with his hair today

Vagner pointed out that today he gets along very well with his hair. But the process goes beyond the aesthetic issue: “It was much more than accepting my hair. It was a rapprochement of who I am as a black man, it was discovering my role in society. It’ setting foot in this society, not as just any man, but a black man. This is very strong, you know?”.

He said that even though he is well resolved with his ancestry, he still lives with racism on a daily basis. Vagner told us about the braids he did in his hair recently and how it impacted his work environment. “Some people welcomed me very well, but I saw many looks of disapproval. They feel entitled to comment on how they would like to see your hair. It bothers me a lot, so I had to impose myself. ”

Jokes about hair

The young man who now holds a leadership position said that it was a joke for one of his co-workers, and that although he was confronting her at the time about the comment, it hurt a lot: “I said she had to understand that making fun of an issue that society represses and condemns is not cool. I said that this is being racist, it’s corroborating with prejudice.”

Vagner commented that even though he has a degree, is a graduate student and an articulate person, racism does reach him. None of these things mean anything when it comes to prejudice. “When you go through a situation of racism you’re finished, no matter how simple it is. It’s awful, you don’t know how to react.” For him, when you are black, with every step you take, with every little thing you do, like accepting your hair or clothes, the weight of racism falls against you with all its might. It doesn’t matter who you are.

Accepting natural hair

That’s why, according to him, in this process of assuming his natural hair, he achieved much more than the right to expose his strands. He rediscovered his origins, learned to accept himself, to respect and impose himself before society. By going through this phase and resisting, he regained contact with his blackness and his identity. For this reason, he is proud to say that assuming his hair was a political act. Assuming his role as a black man with kinky/curly hair in society.

Source: ToDeCacho

About Marques Travae 3507 Articles
Marques Travae. For more on the creator and editor of BLACK WOMEN OF BRAZIL, see the interview here.

Be the first to comment

Leave a Reply

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.