A young Egyptian woman decided to leave her country in 2016 because of her hair.
The 26-year-old, Eman El-Deeb, has big curly hair that is admired in Spain, where she currently lives.
However, in Egypt, where many women seek to emulate European ideals of beauty, she felt her hair was a curse.
“The decision to leave was a very sad one for me. I never imagined I’d migrate,” says Eman.
“But I was tired… I reached the point where I felt I wanted to live in a place where my looks do not bother anyone.”
Eman says that in Egypt she was ridiculed by acquaintances and strangers alike.
“In the first couple of months of my work at an Egyptian bank, someone from human resources would come and ask me to straighten my hair almost every day,” she says.
Although Eman’s decision to migrate may seem extreme, her story will probably resonate with many women in Egypt.
Most Egyptian women have naturally curly hair. It’s a dominant feature.
Yet most are forced at a very early age to straighten it, to fit western society’s perception of beauty.
In 2016, a Facebook page was opened called the Hair Addict group. It now has more than 105,000 female members, 95% of whom are actively interacting with the group’s content.
Doaa Gawish, 38, launched the group after she herself suffered because of her hair.
Doaa, an engineer at an American company, is a self-confessed “nerd”. So, although she gave in to constantly straightening her hair, she knew that it was harmful. She then started researching and gathering information about how to diminish the side-effects of constant heating.
She accumulated a wealth of knowledge and decided that she could turn everything she had learnt into something useful for others as well.
After it began, the group grew into almost a cult, where followers shared hair-care routines and soon took the bolder step of going completely heat-free.
The heat-free challenge started in July 2016 and since then it has been a big success.
Photo Credit: Eman Eldeeb