December 7, 2019

The Politics of Curly Hair in Israel

“Walk down the streets of Tel Aviv or Haifa, and you’ll see many women with naturally curly hair. But turn on Israeli TV news, and you’ll be hard pressed to find a female anchor who hasn’t pressed her hair flat. And this isn’t just a trend among news anchors. In Israel, female politicians, entrepreneurs, and celebrities who step into the limelight are soon found featuring straight, shiny locks, no matter their hair’s original texture.

Male politicians and celebrities with curly hair exist in Israel, but since they tend to keep their hair short, it’s been less of an issue; women, who more often keep their hair long, are in the eye of this cultural storm. But recently, there’s been a cultural uprising brewing, as curls take center stage in the national conversation.

Four years ago, a tech worker named Orian Paz decided to start a conversation about natural hair, and founded the Facebook community Metultalot (“curly women,” in Hebrew). What happened next exceeded all expectations: currently, the group has 77,500 members, and Paz had since added a website, YouTube channel, and Instagram account to the mix. “Many public figures in Israel are asked to straighten their hair when facing the camera,” said Paz. “And watching them makes curly women feel out of place.”

With daily discussions on anything from self-acceptance and curl maintenance to raising curly daughters, the Facebook group is challenging Israel’s mainstream perception of beautiful hair. Last spring, on March 3 (3/3 reminds her of the shape of curls, Paz says) the group celebrated the second National Curls Day, a holiday Paz invented to bring awareness to her cause. The event included women’s empowerment circles, concerts by curly haired performers, workshops by hairdressers, and a marketplace. “We had amazing feedback—600 women came, and we were entirely booked,” she said, adding that her dream is a large-scale curl festival sometime in the future. Paz points to the fact that the natural hair movement is not unique to Israel. “In the U.S. I see the movement primarily among women of color, who take pride in their heritage and talk about the complex history around hair,” she said. “In Israel, the problem is that hair types vary significantly, and no one is leading a single discussion.””

Read more

JJ Editor's Picks

"Is NATO headed for a crackup? That could have been a headline from any of the last three years. Having run for president on an "America First" platform that included demands that allies pay the U.S. to defend them, and a rapprochement with Russia.."

"In the movie “10 Things I Hate About You,” one ditzy character turns to another and asks: “I know you can be overwhelmed and you can be underwhelmed. But can you ever just be whelmed?” Her friend responds, “I think you can in Europe.” That is..."

"OF COURSE, there’s a Crisis of Truth and, of course, we live in a “Post-Truth” society. Evidence of that Crisis is everywhere, extensively reported in the non-Fake-News media, read by Right-Thinking people. The White House floats the idea of..."

"Given that one in four children now grow up in one-parent homes and that 42% of marriages end in divorce you might expect prejudice against single parents to be a thing of the past. Yet a 2014 poll found that 75% of single parents had..."

"When education-reform activist Sarah Carpenter expressed skepticism about Sen. Elizabeth Warren’s plan to quadruple federal Title I funding for schools, Ms. Warren’s reply was remarkable. “Listen, I understand that,” the senator said backstage..."

"I’m not big on counterfactual historical musings. The hypothetical is tempting and tantalizing, but valueless. History happens but only just. Still, it happens. That events are not inevitable does not make them reversible. There is one exception..."

"Between salvos of Hamas rockets, Netanyahu shenanigans and Trump’s antics, you may have missed the really big news, an issue which will have lasting effects on the U.S.- Israel relationship: are the two states now nearer than ever to signing a..."

"A new short story looks at how artificial intelligence could support, and distort, faith... Each month, Future Tense Fiction—a series of short stories from Future Tense and ASU’s Center for Science and the Imagination about how technology and..."