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Hair politics: Beyond beauty, this Ivorian hair artist used her hair to address #MeToo

Ivorian hair artist, Laetitia Ky has used her hair to speak out on rape, sexual assault and harassment. She shaped her hair to speak on the #MeToo movement. Her hair portrayed a man lifting the skirt of a woman. Laetitia’s poignant expressions are when she uses her hair to highlight women rights issues.

Ivorian hair artist Laetitia Ky last year trended on the internet and social media for the amazing work of art she did with her hair. At a time when there is a renaissance in the way African women rock their natural hair, Laetitia has broken boundaries with what she has done with her hair.

The aspiring fashion designer has used her hair to create multimedia images that address at a range of topics. In one picture, she has moulded her hair to that of a girl twerking, in another picture; she shaped her hair into a trumpet with the message “I love music so much! Sometimes I wish I can be a genius in music. You know, the kind of person with a musical ear who can sing and play a lot of music instrument!!”

Laetitia also styled her hair doing the Wakanda pose. Two hands crossed over each other, captioned “Hairstyle designed with vibranium!”. Hair is political. It has been the site of identity politics and contestation for many  centuries, and it is interesting to see that Africans are beginning to reclaim their identity through embracing natural hair.

Despite the many interesting things Laetitia does with hair, probably the most poignant is when she uses her hairstyle to tackle the issue of women’s rights. With her hairstyle moulded to a scale, one with a man and the other with a woman, Laetitia asks, “At what level is the fight for women’s rights in your country?”

She answers: “In mine we still have a lot of work to do. Some women are mutilated because some believe that a woman does not have the right to have sexual fulfilment. Some women don’t have the chance to go to school because for some it is not useful to educate a woman. . . Women are paid less, sexually harassed daily, slut shamed and violence against them is justified”.

Photo: Facebook/Laetitia Ky?

“Today is a reminder of how we have a lot of work again to do. I’m sad sometimes when I realise how powerless I am in front of the situation of some women in this world. But I remember I have a powerful weapon! The possibility to speak. Think of all these women who speak every day to say NO when something is wrong. Things become a little better every day. So don’t neglect it and never lose an opportunity to speak,” she adds.

Read: Meet Laetitia: The Ivorian hair artist shows black hair is a powerful mode of self-expression

Using her hair to highlight issues women face all over the world, Laetitia joined the #MeToo movement by moulding her hair to that of a man raising the skirt of a woman. Her core messages was “Nothing justifies rape, sexual assault or harassment.”

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#metoo Thousands of women are raped every day in the world, but very few are able to talk about it, to complain or fight. Why? Because our "beautiful" society has the tendency to blame the victim almost every time. "" Oh but you should not have to gone out so late !!! "" "" "Ah, but you had a mini skirt" "," "why are you complaining if you agreed to have dinner with him?" "," "dont tell me that you were not trying to seduce him with all that makeup" "… Ladies … NOTHING JUSTIFIES RAPE, SEXUAL ASSAULT OR HARASSMENT. Neither your clothing, your make-up, your relationship with the abuser (because even your husband doesnt have the right to force you to have sex if you dont want to, the concept of marital rape exists). There is no enabling circumstance for the abuser and you need to talk about it so that thing starts to change. Don't remain silent, dont let anyone tell you that you have some responsibility in this despicable act !!!! Speak out because you dont have to carry this burden alone, talk to help other women who are afraid, talk to start a revolution, talk to change things. You are not alone. Dont be discouraged even if your direct surrounding makes you feel guilty … the weight can be difficult to sustain and the battle can be hard but it is worth it !!!!!! It's never too late to speak out. Even if the assault took place 20 years ago, a crime remains a crime so dare to speak out …. dont let anything pass… so those men learn to honor and respect women . Because yes, it is not for you to interfere with your liberty so that they are not tempted but for them to know how to control themself. I repeat it once more, dare to talk about it, dare to SNITCH ON YOUR PIGS… talk to the people around you so they can bring you all the support that the victims desperately need to start the process of healing… My DM is open to anyone who wants to talk. You are not alone.

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Read: From slavery to colonialism and school rules: a history of myths about black hair

For Laetitia, hair isn’t just about beauty, but it’s also a medium to talk about the standards of beauty, body shaming and gender inequality that women go through. Hair is definitely political for her.

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