‘Suspended from school because her hair was too big’ New campaign aims to help young women of colour embrace their natural hair

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  • Goals4Girls have launched the 'My hair, my identity' campaign to help young women of colour love their natural hair.

    A new campaign encouraging young women of colour to celebrate their natural hair has been launched by football development and mentoring programme, Goals4Girls.

    The ‘My hair, my identity’ campaign aims to tackle the Eurocentric – namely, white – beauty standards that pervade the UK media, by encouraging young women to love their hair.

    The campaign comes off the back of one of the programme’s young women being sent home from school because her hair was “too big”.

    The girl, whose name has been changed to Aisha to protect her anonymity, was suspended from school for a week after being informed that her natural hair didn’t adhere to school policy.

    After missing a week of her education, Aisha was then reintroduced to her lessons via the school’s isolation room, where she had to carry out her work in silence, supervised by a teacher.

    Such is the everyday reality for young women of colour across the UK.

    View this post on Instagram

    'My hair, my identity' – Gemma This is Gemma, one of our amazing G4G participants. You know that feeling you get when you first meet someone, and they're so welcoming and kind-hearted, it's like you've known them for years? That's Gemma. When we asked her whether she'd like to share with people what her hair means to her, she jumped at the chance! Gemma has struggled with her hair. She's sometimes thought it was too big, too messy, a little uncontrollable, but she's since learnt to love her GORGEOUS curls. Read what she has to say about her hair and it's role in her sense of identity (swipe right >>>) Thank you Gemma for sharing your story, and for being the first one in our 'My hair, my identity' series ❤️🖤❤️ . . . ✏️ – @s.aosborne . . . #myhairmyidentity #blackgirlmagic #myhair #goals4girls #hairgoals

    A post shared by Goals4Girls (at 🏡) (@goals4girls) on

    But the ‘My hair, my identity’ campaign is aiming to redress this everyday racism by encouraging young women to “embrace their hair but above all else, their identities, cultures and histories,” founder and CEO Francesca Brown told Metro.

    “As an organisation, we understand that it isn’t fair for us to be educating Aisha on how to act when in a situation like the one she found herself in, but that institutions like her school, should in fact be educated about the importance of hair for children of colour,” she said.

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    “It’s a long journey, but this is how we see ourselves combatting systemic racism; by equipping our young people with the skills needed to navigate a system that wasn’t built for them so that eventually, they can be the change that we all need.

    “Beyond every braid, curl, lock and strand is a sacred story for women of colour – and even though it is ‘just hair’ to so many, it’s so much more than that, and we are about to share this through Goals4Girls.”

    View this post on Instagram

    'My hair, my identity' – Assmaa This is Assmaa, another one of our amazing G4G participants. Assmaa could quite literally talk to a brick wall. She'll speak to everyone, going out of her way to speak to those who sometimes might not feel included or lack a little confidence in a group situation. Like Gemma, it's taken her some time to learn to love her natural hair, but she's now at absolute Queen level with her incredible curls! Swipe right to see what she has to say about her hair 👑🖤 . Continue to support our work as we continue to make the voices of our young women and girls heard ✨ LINK IN BIO . . . ✏️ – @s.aosborne . . . #myhairmyidentity #goals4girls #afrogoddess #curlsrules #gonatural

    A post shared by Goals4Girls (at 🏡) (@goals4girls) on

    To kick off the campaign, Goals4Girls have been sharing hair stories from the young women they work with on their Instagram.

    One of these stories came from Assmaa, who says, “I’ve always struggled accepting my hair as it differs from the rest of my family. But I’ve grown to accept it and love it just as it is.”

    Another Goals4Girls participant, Indiana, spoke of how important her hair is to her identity. “My hair is one of my favourite things about myself,” she says. “I feel like it tells a story of who I am.”

    The programme are currently fundraising to ensure their ‘Identity’ unit, which oversees the campaign, is fully resourced this summer. With many of their young people left without guidance and support because of the coronavirus pandemic, the programme’s work has never been so important.