Celebrating curly hair with portraits and life stories

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A photographic exhibition in London is celebrating women's textured hair using portraits, while sharing stories of their experiences of growing up and living with curly hair.

The Curl Talk Project, founded in 2017 by Paris-born creative Johanna Yaovi, will be exhibited at Hoxton 253 Art Project Space in London until 9 March.

The project statement explains: "Coming from a diverse range of countries, backgrounds and ethnicities, women share their realities, and reveal what it means to have textured hair in a society where the standard is otherwise.

"Characterised by struggle, pride, misunderstanding or unconditional love, these stories define what it means to be different because of an element that is still seen as a condition for beauty: hair."

Here is a selection of photos from the exhibition, featuring portraits of women from France and the UK, along with quotes about their hair.

Aude, France

Image source, Johanna Yaovi

"I love my hair, I love to take care of it, play with the texture and the colour as much as I can.

"I use my hair to dismantle decades of negative messaging and wrong ideas coming from my family or society itself: black hair doesn't grow, black hair can't be beautiful unless it's long with loose curls."

Ada, France

Image source, Johanna Yaovi

"Having curly hair doesn't necessarily mean that you are meant to have a conflictual relationship with it. My parents played a strong role in my hair acceptance journey as they always told me how great my hair is, and explained why relaxing it wasn't an option.

"The reason for this was quite simple: my hair is part of me and altering it would alter the essence of my identity."

Aleah, UK

Image source, Johanna Yaovi

"My mother has always been against relaxers but her mindset didn't stop me from being addicted to hair straightening.

"She used to blow-dry her hair a lot in her younger years, before going natural. It heavily damaged her curls, and as she didn't want this to happen to mine she tried to prevent me from doing it, in vain."

Elsie, France

Image source, Johanna Yaovi

"I always wore my natural hair but I used to have it braided or twisted until high school.

"As soon as I decided to wear my natural hair out, I realised that I couldn't succeed in this journey without experimenting with new things. I believe that experimentation is a key element when you want to understand your hair better."

Eleonore, France

Image source, Johanna Yaovi

"In my younger years, none of the models, TV hosts or even animation movie characters, had curly hair.

"The few times it would happen, they would never have a neutral role, and would necessarily have strong personality traits that would make them stand out. Not always in the best way."

Roxanne, France

Image source, Johanna Yaovi

"I am genuinely proud of having this hair type but this love for my real texture only started two years ago.

"I spent my high school years straightening my curls, considering straight hair as the only condition for beauty and femininity."

Samantha, UK

Image source, Johanna Yaovi

"My hair is a big signature statement for me and it has gone through many variations in my life.

"For the past couple of years, I started to see my hair as a clear representation of my womanhood and my blackness.

"It's a great tool that shapes my identity and gives me great confidence."