Adela’s testimony: My mom used to style my hair with a tight ponytail, it even hurt my scalp a bit. When I started to paint and let my emotions out, I noticed that my characters were women with their hair down. I always told my mom: “I want my heh (hair) down,” even when I was little, before I could even speak properly
Gio’s testimony: You’re very much a woman if you’re bald, very much a woman with short hair and very much a woman with the hair you have. Understanding that empowered me, mainly through this health process I’ve experienced, where the affected areas have been related to my femininity
Marielisa's testimony: My hair is my identity, with my hair I am always at peace, it gives me joy, this long hair is a symbol of freedom, of empowerment, I feel like I am a horse, I feel that with this mane I get lost in my herd
Grace's testimony: I started to feel that if hair stored our memories, it is our DNA. Whenever I get my hair cut, I gather it up and burry it. Sometimes, I pick a plant in my parents’ garden. When I gift my hair to the ground I think about the meaning of my gift
Clara’s testimony: You don't have to be strong, it's not an obligation. Baldness reminded that I had to accept this illness that is hurting me, so I started to hate my baldness. I then started the acceptance process together with my daughter, so we started practicing yoga and I started to accept my growing hair. My daughter told me: “It's like a phoenix, it's coming out, you're growing and growing is hard, love yourself”
For several years I felt trapped in an abusive relationship. My partner (at that time) always told me that he loved my long, black hair. One day, driven by jealousy, he lost control and grabbed me by the hair, wrapped it around his hand and dragged me through a dark street where he almost beat me to death. The first thing I did after walking away from that relationship, was to cut and dye my hair
Ninari's testimony: Hair is a historic memory. When I was a little girl my mother used to comb my brother’s, my father’s and my hair. Hair connects me to the meaning of being an indigenous woman. When my mother comb my hair I feel safe and confident, as when I was in her womb
Katya's testimony: Leaving my hair gray has meant liberation, but in Ecuador, it’s a stigma. They think you’re an old lady. When I returned to Quito, after living several years abroad, I started looking for a job and found that I was too old to work. Society makes you invisible when you have gray hair
Bernarda has had grey hair since she was very young and had cancer when she was an adult. This picture was taken while she was dancing. She had not danced in 20 years. As she was dancing, she was wrapped around her universe, her hair and her story
Desirée's testimony: When I was a little girl, I was taught to wear my hair up, tight and intact: repressed. The years, the falls, have also taught me to break patterns, the status quo… and this is what my head shows now: freedom
Yuliana's testimony: My hair represents resistance. In the city I live in, being in a public space with an afro is extremely problematic, people are very racist. Michelle's testimony: My older sister styled my hair when we were little and people made fun of my hairstyle. When I was young, I had a partner who said he liked black girls with straight hair.
Natalia is always trying to understand how the mind works. She has two pet guinea pigs, and she believes that by understanding them she will better understand the human mind. Not too long ago, a friend offered to braid her hair in cornrows. At the moment, Natalia was depressed and she only wanted to hide. This look made Natalia abandon her self confinement and empowered her, because when she looked in the mirror, she thought she had to go and look at the outside world
Desatadas, women’s identity and their hair
This project tells stories about women, through portraits and statements. It shows how social and ethnic identities and emotions can be reflected through the aesthetics of women’s hair. Furthermore, it explores how this identity has been repressed throughout history as a consequence of personal experiences and social fears.
The project began as a personal search of who I am in the society where I grew up in. I became a part of many women’s lives by using their hair as a tool to tell their stories. It is powerful to talk about femininity and the search for an identity. Woman’s hair is able to store moving stories of joy and frustration.
The society that we live in insensitively judges our bodies, our face, our hair. We can easily change our hair following our emotions, while our faces and bodies need surgeries to change. Thus, hair is an element that can make us feel secure and give us some control over our appearance. Hair has become a social discourse and very often a symbol of resistance.
Women want to share their story as a method of feminine empowerment, catharsis and healing.