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South Africa's New Miss SA Has Renewed Conversation Around the Politics of Black Hair

The beauty pageant winner is the first to be crowned while rocking her natural hair in the contest's 60-year history.

The Miss SA contest is perhaps one of the biggest and most highly anticipated annual beauty pageants in South Africa. In its six-decade run, the pageant has evolved considerably. From Jacqui Mofokeng, the first Black woman ever to clinch the coveted title back in 1993 to Sibabalwe Gcilitshana, the first openly queer contestant in the 2019 edition of the contest, the pageant has certainly made strides.

This year's winner, Zozibini Tunzi, becomes the first Black woman to be crowned while rocking her natural hair. While this may not seem like such a big deal, the debates that have been sparked on South African social media show the need to continue the conversation around the politics of Black hair, especially in a country such as South Africa.

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Photo courtesy of Chontudas.

This Black Hairstyle Collective Is Embracing the Beauty of Natural Hair in Colombia

Chontudas wants to strengthen natural hair knowledge among young black girls in Colombia.

In 2012, a champeta duo from Santa Marta, a Caribbean town in Colombia, dedicated their song "Pelo Malo" to all women that have a "bad," "weird" or "disorganized" hair. The song suggested that all these women have to use "liser" – a product to straighten their hair to make it look cool. The song neatly illustrates the stigma of wearing natural hair in Afro-Colombian communities. But these offensive categories don't represent the growing movement of Afro-Colombian women who are embracing their natural hair and all of its beautiful complexity.

During the American Civil Rights and Black Power movements in the 60s and 70s, there was a revolt in favor of wearing natural hair. The second wave of the natural hair movement has reached a global audience through social media and Colombia is not an exception. It's been five years since Mallé Beleño, an educator, and other black women created a hair collective called Chontudas—the name refers to a kind of palm tree whose presence evokes the hair of black women. The group was initially founded to discuss how to wear natural black hairstyles as well as to spread ancestral traditional hair knowledge.

This collective came to life as a Facebook group with 70 black women in 2014. Since then, it has become a place to share the experiences of making the transition to natural hair, and a place to showcase a more diverse standard of beauty as well as a place to trade hair care advice.

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