The debut of Marvel’s first primer Egyptian superhero sparked a conversation on social media on the significance of Arab curly hair representation, after lead director of Moon Knight, Mohamed Diab, shared a heartfelt story of its impact on his daughter.
In a tweet, Diab shared a side-by-side photo of Layla El-Faouly (May Calamawy) and his daughter’s curly hair, writing: “Since my daughter was 4, she wanted to straighten her hair. She never saw someone who looked like her in the media. Today this changes with LAYLA, the first Egyptian superhero. Proud to be a part of it!”
The curls bounce on screen in tandem with the growing rise of the ‘natural hair movement’ owing to a community of influencers, startups, local stylists and model agencies in Africa and the Middle East, with Egypt being no exception. For instance, startups such as G Curls and The Curly Studio have pushed women to embrace their curly hair through different hairstyles, and The Hair Addict have also shared curly hair products and tips for women to take care of their natural curls.
However, women with natural curly hair do not solely face discrimination and lack of representation in the media, but in the workplace as well. Research has shown that natural hairstyles are often regarded as “less professional” than straightened hairstyles.
As the natural hair revolution continues to evolve, it is now more than just looking for information or brands on ways to style curly hair, but finding ways to push the image of natural hair on television, films, and advertisements.
This is currently seen through a new generation of models, who began their own movement to push African and Arab beauty worldwide, launching the first modeling agency in Egypt, ‘UNN Model Management‘, which was founded in October 2018 by Iman Eldeeb. The agency aims to challenge the existing stereotypes of beauty by allowing models to stick to their natural curly hair texture.