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Embracing and Celebrating Coily Hair

“Good hair means curls and waves. Bad hair means you look like a slave”

A quote from the well-known song I Am Not My Hair by India Arie and a phrase some of us, like myself, have heard many times growing up with coily hair.

Being of Ethiopian origin, long curly hair is the beauty standard for the majority of Ethiopia’s ethnic groups. To the point that certain people think that all Ethiopian women have long curly hair (hi Drake). Well no. As hate is a big word, I personally never really hated my type 4* hair. But my natural hair journey has been, uhm, interesting.



So when I was scrolling down my Facebook timeline last week and stumbled upon an article titled How is it to have coily hair? by i-D Netherlands, it immediately caught my attention. Though there were two things that made my eyebrows rise: none of the people who were interviewed actually had type 4 coily hair and all, including the writers, come from a mixed race background. I shared my disappointment by simply commenting “beautiful curly hair, but none of them have coily hair” and an online discussion followed.


Since when is curly hair that falls and doesn’t need a twist/braid out to curl/fall considered coily? How can you talk about the struggle of coily hair by excluding people with type 4 hair? Where are our dark skinned brothers and sisters that rock their coily hair oh so fly? So many questions!


While I’m also a relatively light skinned black woman, I’m well aware of the fact that colourism is a real issue. And yes, I do know that handling type 3 curly hair can be a struggle. I can go on and on about colourism and breakdown in detail what’s considered coily hair. But damn, after centuries of European beauty standards in- and outside the black community, spending hundreds of euros on hair products, years of mastering various twist out techniques: me and many others finally embraced our natural coily type 4 hair. So it shouldn’t come as a surprise that this article rightfully offended some black Dutchies, because curly hair aka “good hair” was labelled as coily. However, i-D failed to include people with type 4 hair.


But I don’t want to dwell on this article for too long. To end all the fuss, I have compiled a small list of people with beautiful type 4 hair that i-D could have included in their article. This is for you ❤

Jay-Way | @jayway020

Rudy | @ruudsters

Amartey | @amarteymusic

Me 🙂 | @kalkidan_


At Citizens of Alkebulan Festival on the 8th of July, we will celebrate all types of hair and hairstyles, including dreadlocks, curly hair, braids and coily hair. Hope to see you there, i-D!


*There are 4 hair type groups: 1 = straight, 2 = wavy, 3 = curly and 4 = coily. Every group has multiple subcategories. Just Google search, if you would like to know more.