Founder of CurlyTalks, Dina Ghalwash, “Hair is Something We Want to Be Loved for, Not In Spite of ”

Having been a target for criticism and teasing because of her big, curly hair throughout her life, Dina decided to take her struggle with her curls to the Internet to inspire, motivate and share tips with other curly heads, aiming to end their feelings of insecurity. We’ve recently chatted with the inspiring Dina Ghalwash, about the vitality of embracing natural hair. Here’s what she told us.

How did you come up with the idea of CurlyTalks?
I reached a point where I decided enough is enough with the hair critics. This change in attitude came after an experience of studying abroad for a short while, where people reacted to my hair as if it were something precious to appreciate and admire. This reaction was new to me. As much as I loved this feeling, I was saddened that in my own country and culture, where 99% of people actually have naturally curly hair, I was made to feel unaccepted and unwanted. That’s when I decided that a change in mentality was needed, and realized that I was definitely not the only girl going through this.

Why do you think it’s important to have a virtual, safe space for women to share hair tips?
I think it’s important to help us start recognizing that we are not alone in all this. Others are going through the exact same experiences as we are. Connecting to those strangers, with so much in common, helps create a support system that’s like no other.

Why do think women’s hair is so important to them? And how do you think it affects their overall psychological state?
Women’s hair has always been referred to as their “crown” for a reason: it can either break or make a woman. I know this sounds superficial or dramatic (come on it’s just hair), but the power a good/bad hair day or haircut has on a girl is insurmountable. That’s because it’s a part of each one of us. Something we are born with, and want to be loved for and not in spite of. It’s why we feel resentful towards the society that has forced us to continuously feel like we must change or damage our natural hair.

Before launching the blog, did you plan on expanding more with events, talks, a website and so on?
I had no idea what to expect or what I was looking for when I started Curly Talks. All I knew was that I was looking to help girls avoid what I had experienced throughout my life: feelings of inferiority, uncertainty and insecurities. I had originally said I’d try out the blog for one month, to see if people found a need for it or found it interesting. Luckily enough, people kept an open mind about it and found it useful.

What tips would you give to girls with curly hair in their transition period?
Patience, patience, patience. I know this sounds quite simplistic (and frustrating) but, genuinely, this process takes patience. What we girls have to realize is that it takes us years to completely damage our hair, so it’s only fair to say that it will take just as long for it to fully recover from all those years of mistreatment. Getting creative with hairstyle ideas is also essential. Some people also recommend a big chop- but I say it usually depends on the person.

How do you feel about your blog now being a go-to for a lot of girls and women in Egypt?
I am very thankful and honored that I could help so many women and girls. I’m also very proud of how many girls decided to go against the current, their families and friends and fully accept themselves. It takes such courage, and is very inspirational for me to see every day.

Despite the fact that a lot of Egyptian women are originally curly heads, curly or natural hair has often been criticized; why do you think that’s the case?
It comes down to history; doesn’t everything though? Egypt has been colonized several times. During those periods our colonizers were quite adamant on not just controlling us politically, but psychologically and mentally as well. Quite clever actually; and the media doesn’t help, of course. Western standards of beauty have always been imposed on us, and since colonization we were made to believe that the more similar we are to the West –in looks, language or dress– the higher in status we would be. Unfortunately, this way of thought has not changed much over the years.

Being a curly head yourself, have you ever faced these negative comments or criticisms just because of your hair? If so, how did you react then?
Several times. When I was younger I used to perm my hair during high school, due to the amount of pressure I felt regarding how “ugly” my hair was. I used to always put my hair up, to cover it, and never felt confident in my own skin. Nowadays, though, I sort of wait for, or dare someone to even try to criticize my hair.

What would you tell current mums of daughters with curly hair?
I’d tell them the best way to make your girls love themselves is to show them that you love yourself too, and that you’re not worried about societal norms –or the standards of beauty imposed on us. There is no use telling your girls that their curls are beautiful if they see you every day straightening your own hair. You are their role model –their guide to everything beautiful and genuine– so the first step in reaching them is to learn all about your natural beauty first.

What’s next for CurlyTalks?
I’m not really sure at this point. My wish is to offer affordable, healthy and mostly natural products for curly-haired girls in the Middle East. I feel like there’s a real need for that, but let’s see where life takes me in the coming few months first.

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