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‘Black women’s hair struggles caused by relaxers’

Academics, scientists and researchers discussed the legacies of apartheid on the image of black people.

Black girls at the Pretoria High School for Girls say they are forced to straighten their hair because Afro styles are deemed inappropriate and untidy. Picture: Kgothatso Mogale/EWN.

JOHANNESBURG - Clinical scientist Nonhlanhla Khumalo says most black women's hair problems such as a receding hairline or stunted growth have been caused by using relaxers.

Academics, scientists and researchers today held a roundtable discussion around the legacies of apartheid on the image of black people.

The academics have also reflected on the lack of variety in identities in the media and misleading advertisements harmful products for hair and skin.

Khumalo has reflected on the reasons why hair relaxer is still on the market, despite its harmful nature.

"Relaxers are dirt cheap to make and the profit margins are huge and black women don't seem to mind."

Dermatologist Noxolo Ncoza-Dlova says the alarming practice of skin bleaching is not a phenomenon limited to black people.

"We need to emphasise good skin care and not brightening, lightning fairer skin and even tone."

The discussion has also been about how flawed the norms of beauty in South Africa are and that phenomena such as skin bleaching has been around since apartheid.

Meanwhile, Gauteng Education MEC Panyaza Lesufi says he'll take legally binding action against management at Pretoria High School for Girls where pupils have described their hurt over policies against their natural hair.

Black girls have accused the school of forcing them to straighten their hair because Afro styles are deemed inappropriate and untidy.

Lesufi visited the school today together with a delegation from the Education Department.



The MEC says what these girls have demonstrated by standing up to be being victimised must be lauded.

"I was touched, I must be honest, those young girls are brave and I need to congratulate them."

Lesufi has vowed to take appropriate action.

"I've gathered evidence that is enough for us to take a decision."

Emotional scenes played out at the school today as pupils opened up about how they are treated in the classroom particularly because of how they wear they natural African hair.

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