Beauty industry

These online communities for curly hair are helping Southeast Asian women embrace their natural texture

As a Cambodian American, Rosie Chuong grew up seeing discrimination weigh on those with darker skin, broader features and curly hair textures within the Cambodian community. This experience mixed with the lack of representation she saw in the media prompted her to create API Curls, an online community for Asians and Pacific Islanders around the world to share tips and discuss ups and downs. to care for and embrace their naturally curly hair. Hair. “We deserve so much more than being an afterthought in demographics on other platforms,” ​​says Choung. “I just had to be brave enough to take the lead in building it.”

Choung describes API Curls as a “multicultural hair movement” aimed at dispelling negative ratings of curly hair in the Asian and Pacific Islander community. This message is clear when you scroll through the API Curls Instagram page, which is full of stories of hair journeys, curly hair tutorials, and even discussions of topics like anti-darkness in the Asian community in when it comes to textured hair.

Choung’s journey to embrace her curly hair has spanned more than 10 years: She says her hair texture turned curly after she started her freshman year of college. Meanwhile, she was getting mixed messages about her sudden change in hair texture.

“Everyone around me who wasn’t Asian was telling me how much they loved my hair and how much more exotic it made me,” she says. “Yet within the Asian community, the conversation around my curls was that it was an anomaly, a weird occurrence, and something that needed to be fixed by straightening.”

But through her own journey, she has since realized there is power in community. “What I’ve discovered since I started my journey with curly hair is that I’m not an anomaly and there’s a growing community. Social media is changing that conversation a lot.”

With API Curls hitting its two-year mark, Choung hopes its platform can expand to partner with beauty brands to expand access to curly hair products globally, while helping to diversify the ambassadors chosen to promote their products.

“I’m considering Curls APIs [growing to become] a must-attend event for members of our community, especially those who are just beginning their own hair journey, where people can connect organically simply because there is finally a place that makes it possible.”