Championing diversity in beauty
Our goal is to make afro textured hair more visible in the media as beautiful hair. We want to see billboards featuring women with afro hair as beautiful and desirable.
When children are born, they are not born with an idea of beauty, so they enjoy their reflection in a mirror but unfortunately by time they get to primary school age and older they become susceptible to other people’s impression of them and the messages pushed at them no matter how subtle.
That happened to me and for too long a time, I accepted I had undesirable features and should just learn to live with it. This assumption affected my choices in life and no prizes for guessing those choices didn’t serve me well.
When I had my daughter Siira, I didn’t want her feeling like I did. I didn’t want her loosing her childlike wonder and love for herself. So when the only black women she complemented all had straight hair I knew that was the beginning of loosing her unconditional self-love for herself. If she saw straight hair as the only hair that is worthy of compliments then it was only be a matter of time before she would wish that her hair was straight and how far would it go – wanting someone else’s body, lips, eyes, eyelashes, talent, charisma? The list is endless and can be endless.
This is what makes it so important to teach our daughters to embrace their uniqueness and love every aspect of their image.
So Project Embrace was born because out of all the features that women have issues with the negative messages around afro hair go largely unopposed.
It has been 2 years since the first two billboards went up, progressing to 72 in just a year with 51.1k Impressions on Twitter, 17.2k Likes on Facebook, 2.3k Likes on Instagram and 2.94million + Billboard footfall impression.
The numbers clearly speak for itself but what I am most proud of is watching my 11 year old grow into a confident teenager. She is so comfortable with her looks she spends minimal time and money (THANK GOODNESS!!!) on it, giving her more time to focus on her ambition of becoming a robotics engineer.
It is my mission to encourage other young girls, especially black young girls gain the confidence to believe and say with conviction, “I AM ENOUGH”, to celebrate themselves wherever they go even if no one is celebrating them because they have learnt to embrace and love themselves for who they really are. To have the courage to reject beauty ideals that do not serve or include them instead of losing themselves by trying to conform.
Every woman and girl deserves to feel beautiful without feeling the need to alter her physical self. Unfortunately this is not the case and as a result of the continued ‘bad press’ afro texture hair has received over the centuries, many women (and girls) don’t feel beautiful or even just acceptable in their natural hair texture.
We believe that discriminating against anyone based on their physical form in any kind of way is unacceptable. Diversity is natural and no one should be made to suffer or be punished for it.
Acknowledging beauty on the outside is as important as acknowledging beauty on the inside. Encouraging women to embrace their outer beauty, to look in the mirror and love what they see is not superficial as some might think, on the contrary it demonstrates complete self-worth.
Boosting a girls self esteem so that she is empowered by her unique beauty will give her the confidence to embrace herself and believe in her talents to achieve greatness.