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API Curls: Documenting the Asian and Pacific Islander Experience in the Curly Hair Community

By December 3, 2019May 3rd, 2020No Comments

Earlier this year I decided I wanted to start grouping together stories and thoughts regarding perspectives of people who identify as Asian and Pacific Islanders who are part of the curly hair community.

I’ve been using a social hashtag that simply goes by #APIcurls so if you want to see what’s been shared so far, you can look there. The best part is that it’s not only me who’s sharing experiences! I’ve noticed and am so appreciative that other people have chimed in as well!

This originally started on social media, but I had the intention of putting together a video and a blog post to further strengthen and elaborate on what this is about. To get a good idea of what’s been shared so far, you can check out my posts or my stories (click on posts below to see what’s been highlighted so far).

POST 1: SPACES. CARVING OUT NEW SPACES. ENTERING ESTABLISHED SPACES.

This project is inspired by anyone who identifies as Asian and/or Pacific Islander who has naturally wavy, curly and coily hair. It’s also for anybody who’s curious to learn about the perspective of these identities. Most importantly, it’s a way to validate, share and amplify those voices and the specific experiences of those individuals.

I know that some of the topics I’ve brought up so far may seem universal or similar to other racial or ethnic groups within the curly hair community, and that’s OK, too. My goal with this isn’t to say that our experiences are entirely unique, but rather that we share a commonality with other groups, in addition to having other specific issues that are deeply tied to the Asian and Pacific Islander community.

POST 2: IT TAKES TIME & THOUGHTFULNESS.

POST 3: TEEN VOGUE & MY REVOLUTION

POST 4: API WOMEN EMBRACING DIFFERENT HAIR TEXTURES OFTENTIMES FEEL STUCK IN AN “IN BETWEEN.”

POST 5: INITIAL RESPONSES TO API CURLS

POST 6: STEREOTYPE: WOMEN WITH CURLY HAIR WHO IDENTIFY AS API ARE DOUBLY SEEN AS EXOTIC.

POST 7: “I WANT VALIDATION FROM MY OWN PEOPLE, TOO.”

Another very big reason why this project is so important is that it helps shed light on the concept that hair textures other than straight hair is much more common in the Asian and Pacific Islander community than people have been led to believe.

Since day one, I’ve been very adamant that, embracing a hair texture that is opposite of the typical Asian beauty standard where straight, shiny hair is extremely idolized, is a message sent to the world that this differentiation exists, and it’s beautiful and it’s OK.

POST 8: SHE SAID MY CURLS WERE "COOL."

POST 9: STEPHANIE'S DAUGHTER

POST 10: WSJD / WHAT SHOULD JUMINIE DO?

This is a kickstart for what’s to come! Stay tuned for more conversations and questions that I have for you within the context of API Curls. For now, I’ve already started some dialogue over on social so head on over there to catch up. Otherwise, you can look forward to upcoming videos elaborating on why this is important.

What are some curiosities that you have regarding what the Asian and Pacific Islander experience is like within the curly hair community?

Share your curiosities and experience in the comments section or on social!

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