When Saudi doctor Safi got a new job at a hospital in the capital, she decided to offset her standard white lab coat with a look that she once thought was dramatic.
Upon stepping into the salon in Riyadh, she ordered the beautician to chop a long wavy lock up to her neck. This is an increasingly popular style among women working in a conservative kingdom.
Not only because women no longer need to wear hijab scarves under the social reforms promoted by Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, but also the haircut, locally known for the English word “boy”, is the capital of the capital. It has become more noticeable on the street. The de facto ruler of Saudi Arabia.
As more women join the workforce, which is the central plan of the government’s efforts to rebuild the Saudi Arabian economy, many may have preferred the “boy” cut to a long style in their pre-employment era. Described as a practical and professional alternative to.
For Safi, who asked to be identified by a pseudonym to maintain anonymity, this appearance also serves as a form of protection from unwanted attention of men, allowing them to focus on the patient.
“People like to see femininity in the appearance of women,” she said. “This style is like a shield that protects and empowers me.”
Practical time savings
In a salon in the center of Riyadh, the demand for “boy” cuts is skyrocketing, with 7-8 out of 30 customers requesting it daily, says cosmetologist Ramis.
“This look is very popular right now,” she said. “The demand is rising, especially after women enter the labor market.” The fact that many women don’t wear hijab highlights the spread, “she said.
The removal of the scarf requirement is just one of many changes that reordered the daily lives of Saudi women under Prince Mohammed, who was appointed as the heir to his 86-year-old father, King Salman, five years ago. ..
Saudi women are no longer banned from attending concerts and sporting events and have been granted the right to drive in 2018.
The kingdom has also relaxed the so-called guardianship rules. This means that women can get a passport and travel abroad without the permission of their male relatives.
However, such reforms involved crackdowns on women’s rights activists as part of a broader campaign against dissenting opinions.
Working more women is a key element of Prince Mohammed’s Vision 2030 reform plan to reduce Saudi Arabia’s dependence on oil.
The plan initially required women to make up 30% of the workforce by the end of the decade, but that figure has already reached 36%, said Haifa Arsaud, assistant tourism minister, in Davos last month. I told the World Economic Forum.
“Today, we see women in every profession,” said Princess Haifa, who said that 42 percent of SMEs are owned by women.
Many working women interviewed by AFP praised the “boy” cut as a tool for navigating new professional life.
“I’m a practical woman and I don’t have time to take care of my hair,” said Abeer Mohammed, the mother of two men’s clothing stores.
“My hair is curly, and if my hair gets longer, I have to spend the time I can’t use to take care of it in the morning.”
“Show of strength”
Saudi Arabia has traditionally outlawed men who “imitate women” or wear women’s clothing and vice versa.
However, Rose, a 29-year-old shoe salesperson in Riyadh Mall, believes that a fine cut of her hair is a means of claiming independence from men and not imitating men.
It “gives me strength and self-confidence … I feel different and I can do what I want without the protection of anyone,” Rose said, not wanting to give her full name. rice field.
“At first, my family rejected the look, but over time they got used to it,” she added.
According to Egyptian stylist Mai Garal, such acceptance partially reflects the influence of Arab stars who adopted this style, such as actress Yasmine Wraith and singer Sirene.
“Women who cut their hair like this are women with a strong personality because it’s not easy for them to let go of their hair,” Garal told AFP.
Neuf, who works in a cosmetics store and doesn’t want to name his family, explained the message of the “boy” cut in this way: male. “
She added that short hair is “a manifestation of women’s strength.” —AFP