This week, we sat down with Brazil-based model — and champion of natural hair — Paula Almeida.
Curly Essence: Tell us a little about the history of your curly hair.
Paula Almeida: “When I was a teenager I didn’t like my hair. I always put it in these hairstyles to hide it. So, I eventually decided to straighten it, that was the worst decision. At first I loved it, but the chemicals destroyed my hair. After a few years of chemical straightening I decided I wanted my hair back. I waited more than two years to grow my hair out; it was hard but now I’m incredibly happy to have it back.
C.E.: Have you ever suffered from bullying because of your hair?
P.A.: “Not exactly, but people knew me with straight hair and then saw me with my afro and always asked why I changed my African hair, made jokes, and when they talked to me, they didn’t look at my face, but rather, to my hair. I didn’t feel comfortable.”
C.E.: Explain to us how you care for your curly hair.
P.A.:”I try not to wash it every day, because I try to keep the natural oils since afros are drier than straight hair. I always comb in the shower and try to not break the strands.
C.E.: Are there are rules that society must follow around your ‘fro?
P.A.: “I don’t care if a person (that asks first!) gently touches my hair. But, some people do not ask and come directly up to me and start touching my hair. I don’t like that, I think it’s a bit disrespectful.”
Paula Almeida photographed by Nick Dors