Yes ladies and gents,
You read correctly.
Please donate the smallest of snips of your hair to an amazing woman – Tina Lasisi.
Not only because she is amazing, but because [all jokes aside] she is doing some amazing research as her final year undergraduate thesis at Cambridge University, to help the world understand African hair diversity.
I believe some of the success of the “natural hair movement” is that the majority of us believe there has not been enough done to not only embrace our hair in its natural form – but also not much has been done in terms of research either.
Tina explains part of her motivation:
I would like to emphasise the novelty of this study. Only 1 study has looked at quantitative hair variation (in other words: objective measurement of variation, instead of arbitrary typologies), this study was published in 1976, and it only considered 1 “African population” consisting of 20 individuals from Uganda, Kenya, Zambia and Mozambique, which it considered homogeneous and considered as representative of African hair. 20 individuals from such a wide geographic range cannot be considered homogeneous, especially without proof and without reason. Furthermore, 20 East African individuals can hardly be considered representative of all African diversity.
Later studies by cosmetological scientists (including some at L’Oreal), have published studies making the same mistakes, and sometimes worse ones. The problem, I believe, is that many of these European-led studies do not consider Africans as diverse, and so fail to include this in their hypotheses. I believe however, that there is much to be found, and many answers which will illuminate the origins of not only African hair, but humans as a species.
On a more personal level, this subject is of great interest to me, as a woman of Nigerian descent, because I believe it to be a great injustice to see African hair so under- and misrepresented in science. It is my ambition to contribute to the knowledge of African hair diversity by publishing an article about my research in a peer-reviewed journal (sometime in 2014). However, this would not be the end of it, as I am currently in the process of applying for PhD scholarships, for the purpose of further research into the origins and diversity of African hair.
For this study to succeed, Tina will need people to participate and donate hair for the analyses. The more samples she gets the better and more representative of people of African and/or Caribbean descent this research will be. She only needs five minutes of your time and a few strands of hair.
Over the next month, she will be recruiting participants. For those reading based in London – she will be hosting a drop-in session next week Friday, the 11th of October, in the centre of London and another event on Saturday the 26th of October with the help of the Cambridge University Afro-Caribbean Society titled African Hair: Evolution & History.
Please share this, blog, tweet, or even just talk about this to someone. We need to spread information like this. We’ve done enough complaining – now let’s take some action.
More about Tina Lasisi’s project:
[Here you can find all the information you need about the study, and what participation entails]
The Facebook page: https://www.facebook.com/africanhairdiversity
[By “liking” you will remain updated on events for participation, as well as progress once the sample collection is completed]
Her Twitter account: https://twitter.com/tealass22
[You can also remain updated by following]
As usual, I’d love to know how you get on. More importantly – let’s support and encourage this ground-breaking research and a woman who has gone out of her way to go “the road less travelled.” I’m getting a bit cheesy here but I’m just so happy that we’re breaking past just the aesthetics of our hair and learning more about the science behind it. The knowledge will ultimately help us in bettering our hair care and eventually our bodies also.
Goodluck to Oladuni Tina Rissicat Lasisi,
Division of Biological Anthropology; University of Cambridge