There is a billboard in London promoting natural hair thanks to one inspirational woman.
Lekia Lée, from Romford, Essex, launched her campaign ‘Project Embrace’ last year to change perceptions of beauty “one curl at a time” and encourage black women to embrace their natural locks.
“You hardly ever see black women with their natural textured hair on billboards so to address the lack of representation I chose this highly visible billboard,” Lée told The Huffington Post UK on Tuesday 14 March.
In an effort to positively influence her 11-year-old daughter Siira, Lée created the billboard poster – featuring the hashtag #afrovisibilty surrounded by women celebrating their au naturel locks – which is displayed in West Kensington by UKBillboards for free for two weeks for all to see.
“My main inspiration was to inspire my daughter and other girls like her to feel beautiful and confident about their unique hair texture,” explained Lée.
“And to help young black people feel valued.”
Commenting on the billboard image on Instagram, followers of the campaign have shown their appreciation.
“Fantastic. [I’ve] been following from the beginning. This is so amazing, and what a sight for little girls and boys to see,” one wrote.
In a blog post ‘Campaign To Dismantle Narrow Beauty Standards’, hosted on The Huffington Post UK in February, Lée openly discussed her own relationship with her hair.
“It never occurred to me that I had a choice,” Lée wrote.
“I endured the pain of a chemical relaxer every four weeks to get my natural afro hair straightened. Mine was four weeks as against the recommended six to eight weeks because my hair wouldn’t ‘take’ to the relaxer.
“It didn’t matter that I had sores on my scalp as a result, or that the pain was like putting acid on my skin, or that I got my earlobes burnt every single time despite the thick layer of Vaseline.”
Lée said the procedure left her with the feeling of not being accepted by society – a feeling she doesn’t want her daughter to ever experience.
“To the uninitiated, you will be forgiven for wondering if having straight hair is worth all that pain,” she added.
“You see while some people might have a bad hair day once in a while, as a black girl you are born with a bad hair day, or so society makes you believe.”
Lée is planning on taking the campaign a step further with planned workshops in schools, seminars for parents and erecting billboards across other UK cities – with the hope of creating change.
“I want more positive visibility and equal representation for afro textured hair so as to ‘normalise’ it, and to start a conversation to address how we can call an end to discrimination against afro hair and all aesthetic discrimination,” she said
You can support the campaign through Project Embrace’s crowdfunding page here.
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