Cosmo and the mixed-heritage curly girl

Scroll down to content
Sasha Pereira
Sasha Pereira

After I whittled down my magazines into what inspired me, I categorised the articles into themes. There was some overlap but at the time I felt the groupings made sense. Now, I have written this blog post beginning with the body of text, rather than the title which I have never done before. I just wasn’t sure how to introduce this collection of cuttings.

In the June 2016 edition of Cosmopolitan there was a full feature on hair, or more specifically, “hairitage”. To my delight it focused on mixed-heritage hair which for the most part was curly. I could identify with the piece and also find it useful for product recommendations that I could use on my hair.

To my dismay, it was introduced with these words “Blonde Afros, coarse curls and untamable waves.” Coarse? It may be technically true but it is really ok to say this? If you have hair that is classed as “coarse”, please let me know how you feel about this. I don’t think I have “coarse” hair but this term still leaves me feeling uneasy. I like “textured”. As for “untamable”, really? My hair is not some wild beast needing to be tamed and I like my hair big and “wild”! Anyway, if this is just some horrible shorthand for suggesting that the flyaways should be smoothed, then just say that. All hair can be smoothed or styled. I have waves amongst my curls. My hair will obey, if I am kind to it. Actually, obey is incorrect and akin to taming; my hair can be persuaded into the style I want but it reserves the right to refuse anyway!

All that aside, the purpose of the article was to help the reader decide which type of hair they have and how they can style it whilst embracing our heritage, rather than hiding it behind straightened locks. I can relate to each and everyone of the beauties:

Estelle Frigenti (Swiss, Zimbabwean, Italian) has textured waves, named “relaxed afro” which would otherwise be called beachy waves. In fact, I think I’ll call them beachy waves too. I like to wear this look on holiday, at the beach and in summer. She uses olive oil in her hair and I have done so in the past. I might even do it again! I can identify with her hair struggle – curly hair will spring up when cut so more length needs to be left if cutting when wet so it’s not too short when dried. I think many curly girls have had that shock at the hairdresser.

“Wild waves” were used to describe Sasha Pereira‘s (Portuguese, Indian, white British) hair. She says her hair is “wavy with a slight frizz” and has in past tried to blow-dry it straight to no avail. Yes, I’ve been there too. Curls are stubborn and who can blame them? They deserve to be seen. I used to have long hair like Pereira but my hair journey has taken me to all lengths. It’s currently mid-length, wavy at the roots into curly at the ends. She, like myself has discovered the magic of a diffuser attachment! She uses argan oil which I have tried but perhaps it was a little to heavy. Smells divine though!

Emma Holmes (Jamaican, white British, Dutch) straightens her naturally curly hair. She was bullied at school because of her hair. Hair seemed to be such an important thing at my school. Looking back, I just can’t see why but clearly this was not unique to my school. Her must-use products are coconut oil which I used to use before it became fashionable, and Bumble and Bumble Repair Blow Dry. Bumble and Bumble have a range for curly hair so they are on my “to try” list.

Catriona Frean (Ivorian, white British) was featured as having a “full-on ‘fro” which is the hair texture I really want. This is where my bafflement and coarse comes in – her hair is big, long and soft-looking, if I can judge by the hair of my family and friends. Anyway, she straightened her hair a few times but realised her afro hair was best for her. It took me a while to realise that straight hair is just not me and I have worn my hair curly ever since. It was when I had my haircut at a Sassoon salon that I fully appreciated my hair and stopped working against it. Sassoon’s philosophy is to work with the person’s natural hair and the hairdresser was so in love with my hair (which seemed odd to me at first) but it made me appreciate it. A good cut on curly hair really makes the beauty of it shine through. Frean uses lots of products, including a coconut oil mask (I really need to get back to coconut oil) and a Tangle Teezer. I don’t need one for my hair but have used it in another’s curly hair and it’s brilliant. Rather than yanking at the curls it gently teases out tangles leaving behind smooth coils. Be kind to your curls and they will be kind to you.

This post wasn’t meant to be all about hair but there is just so much to say. Curly girls, I know you understand me! I think this article would form the basis of a good chat. Facebook Live anyone?

Catriona Frean (top) and Estelle Frigenti

3 Replies to “Cosmo and the mixed-heritage curly girl”

  1. White magazine or there media dont inform very well on people of African descent.African people have naturally straight hair ,wavy ,curly and coiled hair.But most white magazines ,scientist and hairdressers will claim that Afro hair is the only hair that Black Africans have .Its not ,coil hair is the most popular but there is also straight ,wavy and curly hair there too.The ancient Greeks wrote about two types of African ,the curly hair ones and the straight hair ones. So did Senegalese African scholar Cheik Anti Diop he stated that African have natural straight,wavy ,curly hair.
    So saying mixed heritage hair is misleading as Yoruba,Fanti,Ashanti,Tuareg Fulani,Somali,Ethopian ,Sudanese black Africans can all have natural straight, wavy,curly hai.Which is what they claim mixed heritage hair is. Being Black African doesnt mean you will have curly or coil hair ,it can be straight or wavy too.
    Black Africans DNA is very diverse even Asians have curly ,wavy,straight hair too.White people dont have a copyright on straight or wavy hair.And mixed parentage people dont have a copyright on curly hair .Even though its portray that way. A lot of African with that type of hair plait it so you wont always see it and they like to cover their hair especially with the Sahara sands blowing about.But they do have curly ,wavy and straight hair too.Without a random white or Asian person helping create that hair.
    A lot of Racist white Europeans like Francis Galton in slavery and colony period wrote lies about Africans .
    They will usually claim that anyone with straight wavy hair in Africa is mixed but thats not always true.When I did hairdressing in the uk my white hairdressing tutor claimed that afro hair was the only type of hair Africans had .Its piss me off no end ,as I knew it was a blatant lie.Most people who write lies about black african have never travel to Africa.
    Also afro hair isnt just found on Africans Papau new guinea people have hair like that and some people in Asia. Brown skin people need to write there own books and story .Instead of allowing white racists to lie about brown skin people.
    Theres natural blonde afro Blacks African but if you listen to the white media they will claim its only in Papau new guinea.


    1. Thanks for the information. My experience of mixed-heritage hair and black African hair is limited to what I see here in the UK on family and friends and from the places I have been on holiday. I have yet to visit the continent of Africa but plan to visit a number of African countries where I might experience the beauty diversity you have described above.

      As for the article itself, I’d rather see an attempt to acknowledge diversity than not at all. I learned from it and it was broadly in line with what I have seen myself. The more I travel and read, the more I will learn.

      Your tutor was clearly incorrect. Perhaps he or she should study a little more!

      It is perfectly possible for black and Asian women to tell their stories and there are plenty of blogs and magazines out there doing just that. We just need to do our bit and buy them. Supply will depend on demand so we’ll always be the minority here so there are fewer national outlets. I also read magazines aimed at black women such as Glam Africa, Glitz Africa and New African Woman. I also like to dip into other world magazines such as Vogue India. Of course they are all edited to appeal to the widest possible audience.

      Thanks for taking the time to comment. If you have any recommended reading, let me know. Please keep in touch!


  2. I defintley think brown and black people need to start there own magazine not jusst blog as not everyone has access to internet.I still love print myself. I hope to visit my family in Nigeria and take photos of the many types of beauty.My tutor in hairdressing was uneducated white person.But to be honest a lot of white people in europe have no idea about africans ,they just promote ignorance


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

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

%d bloggers like this: