Do Asian and Pacific Islander people have naturally curly hair?

The short answer is: YES.

But it’s not the answer to this question that should be surprising-it’s the mind frame people have when asking this question.

When people outside of the Asian community are trying to envision or imagine what an Asian person looks like, a number of micro-communities and cultures within the Asian umbrella term often get excluded.

That’s a major problem, especially for those with curly hair.

Chances are, you’ve seen an Asian person with naturally curly hair, but due to racism, stereotypes, identity and cultural complexities, different terms, labels and definitions used globally, and beauty standards, you might’ve overlooked a certain person or group of people when you thought of the word, “Asian.”

Asia is the largest continent with communities and there are so many countries, cultures and identities within its context so it’s understandably hard to be aware of or keep track of who identifies as Asian or not.

According to the Asian Pacific Institute on Gender-Based Violence, communities that are recognized as Asian include:

  • Central Asians: Afghani, Armenian, Azerbaijani, Georgians, Kazakh, Kyrgyz, Mongolian, Tajik, Turkmen, Uzbek.
  • East Asians: Chinese, Japanese, Korean, Okinawan, Taiwanese, Tibetan.
  • Native Hawaiians and Pacific Islanders (in the U.S. Jurisdictions & Territories): Carolinian, Chamorro, Chuukese, Fijian, Guamanian, Hawaiian, Kosraean, Marshallesse, Native Hawaiian, Niuean, Palauan, Pohnpeian, Samoan, Tokelauan, Tongan, Yapese.
  • Southeast Asians: Bruneian, Burmese, Cambodian, Filipino, Hmong, Indonesian, Laotian, Malaysian, Mien, Papua New Guinean, Singaporean, Timorese, Thai, Vietnamese
  • South Asians: Bangladeshi, Bhutanese, Indian, Maldivians, Nepali, Pakistani, Sri Lankan.
  • West Asians: This is a contested term, most people from the region do not self-identify as such. West Asia is typically referred to as the Middle East; and geographically includes the countries of Bahrain, Iran, Iraq, Israel, Jordan, Kuwait, Lebanon, Oman, Palestine, Qatar, Saudi Arabia, Syria, Turkey (straddles Europe and Asia) United Arab Emirates and Yemen.

Although who counts as “Asian” and “Pacific Islander” is debatable, according to the Times, we know we can do better in helping the general public have a more educated, expanded understanding to the fact that, yes, people who identify as Asian and Pacific Islander do have naturally curly hair.

That’s why we exist.

Check out our social for the faces (and beautiful hair) of our community where we break and demystify myths and misunderstandings about Asian hair. *This page will periodically be updated to include relevant articles and information that help us answer this big question.


Share on facebook

Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *


Your Curated Content

HEADLINER: Michelle Chang

Michelle shares how creativity helped her understand her curls and identity. “I still haven’t met anyone in New Zealand, who has curly hair who’s Asian.

The #AsianCurls Challenge

In response to the viral #DontRush and #PassTheBrush social media challenges (co-created by Toluwalase Asolo + her 7 girlfriends), members of the API Curls community