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5 Women On How Their Hair Has Shaped Their Identity

Our hair, and our relationship with it, can often be a journey. Hair is intrinsically tied to our ideals of beauty, self-expression, history and heritage. From experimenting with colours and placing too much faith in your friend with scissors as a teenager, to finally learning how to embrace your natural hair colour and texture, it’s a process that’s often characterised by a lot of experimentation and emotion.
For many people in the BIPOC and LGBTQI+ communities, hair can become a statement of radical self-acceptance too — and represent an enduring internal struggle with identity.
We sat down with five women with different types of hair — from big, bold natural curls to sharp and shaved. We asked them to share how their hair has helped shape their identities and styled them (using a range of Dyson haircare tools) in ways that express them most clearly. Here’s what they said.
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Tazzy Elhassadi

Refinery29 Australia
Refinery29 Australia: How would you describe your relationship with your hair? 
Tazzy: I love my hair and I like to think it loves me too! Sometimes it’s a lot of work, but nurturing and taking care of my hair is one way I show love to myself. I’m super proud of my hair, even on its off days.
It’s taken me a while to fully understand my hair and what works best for it. I usually always style my hair out in its full glory, but as I’ve grown, I’ve learned that protective styles and giving it a break from being out all the time can help it thrive. When I was 16, I shaved it into a frohawk to emulate Rihanna’s do at the time! It’s definitely a fun memory to look back on. 
Refinery29 Australia: How do you believe your hair shapes your identity? 
Tazzy: My hair is unique, big and beautiful! I’m beyond blessed to have it. To be perfectly honest, since I can remember I’ve constantly gotten compliments and positive reactions to my hair so, naturally, that makes me feel super confident. 
My hair is the legacy of my rich North African heritage. It’s also a lot like my personality — full of life, totally unapologetic and always moving and changing shape. Because my hair is so distinct, it’s always been associated with who I am. I’ve always been the girl with the fro. I often don’t feel myself with my hair tied back but I’m trying to work on that. As much as we love our hair, I’ve learned that it shouldn’t completely define us. I'm much more than just my hair.
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Refinery29 Australia: What’s your go-to tip for styling your curls and holding volume?
Tazzy: I like to have my hair out with voluminous, moisturised, defined curls and pin the sides back tightly to pull some of the hair away from my face/give me a mini facelift ;)
It’s taken me years to master this process, but I’m well and truly at an expert level now. I detangle my hair in the shower with conditioner, wash it out and immediately put on my styling products in the shower to capture the cast of my curl at its most perfect. Then I diffuse my hair with my Dyson hairdryer, disturbing the curls as little as possible. Once that’s done, I get my hands into it and start building volume. Usually, the second day after my wash-and-go is the peak day for defined curls and mega volume. 
Refinery29Australia: As an artist, how do you express the message of your music visually?
Tazzy: I love striking colours, unique textures, form-fitting silhouettes, bright prints, glitter and metallics — anything fun. Music and creativity for me is all about the drama, whether it be the raw emotion in my music or the boldness of my look. It all comes together to show who I'm without fear. Because I’ve looked different most of my life and had to fight off a lot of nasty opinions about that, part of the message of my work is to amplify your uniqueness and shine your light bright rather than cave to the criticism and blend in the background. 
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Tazzy’s hair was styled with the Dyson Supersonic.
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Bree Grant

Refinery29 Australia: How would you describe your relationship with your hair? 
Bree: I can genuinely say that I love my curls. Growing up, I knew my hair was different from everyone around me, but my family, friends and even strangers always told me how lucky I was to have curly hair, and I was never meant to feel insecure about it. My mum always encouraged me to embrace it and let it do its own thing. Now, I know how fortunate I was to be taught to love it. I have friends with curly hair who spent most of their teenage years straightening their hair and hating it. Knowing how unique my hair is gives me so much confidence.
Refinery29 Australia: How do you believe your hair shapes your identity? 
Bree: It’s literally how everyone in my life identities me. If someone’s trying to describe who I'm to an acquaintance, they’re literally like “blonde, curly hair”, and for most people, the penny drops. It’s always made me feel really empowered and like I had an edge. That said, when my high school boyfriend had cancer, I was ready to shave my head with him. Everyone around me wouldn’t let me, but I was prepared to part with it. Even though my hair is a massive part of my identity, my parents raised me to know that it’s not what defines me as a person, or anyone else for that matter. 
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Refinery29 Australia: What’s your favourite thing about your curls?
Bree: That I got them from my dad -- he had a wild head of curls back in the day! Although there’s less now, he’s still got them [laughs]. I remember the first time my older sister straightened my hair. I was 11. I went out to the back shed to show dad, and I could tell he didn’t like it straightened. He kind of just looked at me funny and jokingly asked me where my curls went. At the time, I was upset because I thought he thought I looked ugly. But really, he just loves seeing me with curls because I got them from him, and it’s something we share that identifies us as father and daughter. 
I think my curls have empowered me to make bolder style choices. I figure if my hair is already this big, why not go hard. I’m also very low maintenance (read: lazy), so the shake-and-go approach suits me just fine [laughs]. It also lends itself to the whole ‘70s fashion vibe that I’m often drawn to! 
Refinery29 Australia: How do you maintain your natural curls? 
Bree: I swim in the ocean almost daily, and on wash days I'll add a hydrating serum to my ends before using the Dyson Supersonic Diffuser to lock in neater ringlets.I’ll spray Moroccan oil in it when it feels flat and dry to give it new life too.
Bree’s hair was styled with the Dyson Supersonic.
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Meghana Rao

Refinery29 Australia: How would you describe your relationship with your hair? 
Meghana: My relationship with my hair is complicated. It is in constant flux, ebbing and flowing with my energy and state of mind. There are some days where I absolutely love how it sits and feels against my skin and then there are others where I flip it straight into a bun — now that I can again (I had a shaved head a few months ago!)
I always fluctuated between long and shoulder-length hair until two years ago, when I finally got dreadlocks. It was so much fun and I felt very comfortable in my skin during that brief year of rocking dreads. I then decided to shave my head - which triggered a colossal shift in the way that I engaged with myself. I felt sexy and bold. The hair I have now is the regrowth from shaving my head!
Refinery29 Australia: How do you believe your hair shapes your identity? 
Meghana: My hair has given me confidence through different stages of my life, and all the changes mark what that stage meant to me, and each time I was at a turning point in my spiritual and personal journey. Every time it has changed, I have become more comfortable with it and the deeply communicative connection between inner and outer expression. 
Refinery29 Australia: What do you love most about your natural hair? 
Meghana: I love the way that my hair is never the same each day, and that it always reflects my emotional, psychological and physical state. Its constant sexuality is inspiring.
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Refinery29 Australia: What’s your go-to hair care routine for maintaining your natural colour and style?
Meghana: My go-to hair routine consists of massaging my scalp with coconut oil for an hour before I wash my hair. I also love washing  it with natural shampoo bars. 
Meghana’s hair was styled with the Dyson Airwrap and Dyson Corrale.
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Fern Coops

Refinery29 Australia: How would you describe your relationship with your hair? 
Fern: My hair and my personality work in unison. Together they amplify my vibrant, wild and eccentric sides. Being a huge ‘yes’ girl, there’s not a hair colour or style I wouldn’t try. My coloured hair and I are a match made in heaven -- without each other, we are not whole. 
Having a mother that’s a hairdresser definitely influenced my desire to colour my hair — she has pink hair, so naturally, I followed suit. Blue was my first colour of choice  —  however, it started as a small streak in my fringe, later eventuating to an all-over colour. I’ve been pink, blue, red and orange, but always finding myself most confident with pink. I’ve rocked short hair for seven years now and the likelihood of growing it past my shoulders is mega rare. The cut remains the same but the colour is forever changing. I wouldn’t say I follow trends - if I see a colour I like, I do it. Not much thought goes into it, although this process stresses my mother out massively. 
Refinery29 Australia: How do you believe your hair shapes your identity? 
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Fern: My hair has forever been a signifying part of my appearance. Last year I decided to revert back to my natural hair roots (light brown/brunette) -- and it was not good. I felt like I was missing a part of myself. I need colour to be my most confident self; I need colour to feel like the real Fern. 
You could say that my forever-changing hair colour explains my identity - I do not like to conform and remain hidden. I like to stand out. I like the attention and conversations my hair brings. Many love it, many are confused by it. But the only thing that matters is that I love it. I'm not here to appeal to everyone; I'm here to love myself and to make myself feel my most confident.
Refinery29 Australia: What are your favourite tones you’ve coloured your hair over the years? 
Fern: Blue was very sick although difficult to match with clothes and extremely hard to get out. Up until the pink I'm currently rocking, I would say red was my favourite - it was pretty striking and very hectic. Every wash resulted in a different shade of red and I loved it. But now, I'm crushing super hard on this pink -- I think it’s the best one yet. And surprisingly, I dyed it myself - love a lockdown colour. 
Refinery29 Australia: How do you take care of your coloured hair?
Fern: Having short hair has allowed me to continue to bleach and colour my hair without the fear of it appearing unhealthy. This being said, I’ve always used top-quality products in my hair -- we’re talking salon-quality shampoo/conditioner, heat protectant sprays and bond-repairing products. A full scalp bleach and constant colouring can be pretty harsh on the hair but with the right products, a bit of care and a top-notch hairdresser, you are always bound for success. 
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Fern’s hair was styled with the Dyson Supersonic.
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Zhana Olivia 

Refinery29 Australia: How would you describe your relationship with your hair? 
Zhana: I've found that being bald has really helped cement my status as a queer, inner-west based artist. How else would people know? 
I chopped off my long hair when I was 10 because I wanted to look like the ‘sporty girls’ (bless that little baby gay). Then I regrew it so it would be really long when I did the World's Greatest Shave at 17 —  you know, for the shock value. There was a dark and unfortunate period where I emulated Kylie Jenner's 2016 teal tips, but other than that, it's just been a series of never-ending unkempt undercuts and tiny fringes.
Refinery29 Australia: How do you believe your hair shapes your identity? 
Zhana:  Without hair, I'm kind of forced to just serve up whatever the rest of my face and body are doing that day. I'm not sure it gives me confidence per se, but it lets me exist exactly how I am, which is ultimately a cool skill to teach yourself.
For me, it makes no difference what my hair looks like.  But the difference in how I'm perceived and treated after shaving my head is so stark.  Not to say that it's bad — mostly strangers like to tell me I'm lucky my head isn't a weird shape (this happens at least three times a week) and old dudes don't stare at me on the street anymore. Maybe I'm scarier now? 
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Refinery29 Australia: What inspired you to shave your head? 
Zhana: Originally, the World's Greatest Shave. Like I said, I'd been planning to do it since I was a kid. I actually campaigned for my high school to allow us to do it earlier because I was impatient and then I ran the fundraising drive two years in a row. It was rad, and I never missed my hair, but I wasn't comfortable enough in myself at the time to keep it short. I grew it out straight away and kept it long until my best friend shaved her head and I got envious. I waited until she grew hers out, though, because we decided we couldn't both be shaved at the same time or we'd look like we joined a cult.
Refinery29 Australia: Has shaving your head taught you anything about yourself? 
Zhana: Turns out that hair is a great head insulator and winter in (so-called) Australia is colder than I gave it credit for.
Refinery29 Australia: How do you maintain your shaved look?
A rechargeable Aldi razor and like, so much sunscreen. A burned scalp is a lot less sexy than you might imagine.
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