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Black Hair Matters: Olympic Swim Committee Denies Approval Of Swim Cap Brand Designed For Natural And Afro Hair

It’s wild that we’re still fighting this battle over the way our hair grows out of our heads.

Source: FangXiaNuo / Getty

Crown Day is tomorrow, but the battle for women to wear their natural hair in the workplace just took another hit this week after FINA (the federation for international competitions in water sports) denied a swim cap designed to accommodate diverse hair types from their approval process to become certified to wear for competition swimming.

The news was first reported by Metro UK, who reported that the SOUL CAP brand swimming caps were barred by FINA on the grounds that to their ‘best knowledge, the athletes competing at the International events never used, neither require to use, caps of such size and configuration’. The committee furthered that the brand’s caps were not suitable because they do not follow “the natural form of the head.”

Ehhhh, does that sound racist to anybody else?

So athletes won’t be allowed to compete at the Olympics while wearing a SOUL CAP — we need to see some specs on the caps that are allowed! All we know is our good sis Simone Manuel is going to smoke the competition regardless.

We’re hoping other athletes with natural hair are able to find caps that will accommodate them during the competition too.

Toks Ahmed and Michael Chapman, the co-founders of SOUL CAP have responded to the FINA decision, saying they are disappointed in the “failure to acknowledge the diversity of competitive swimmers.”

The brand posted a statement on Instagram in response to the decision, which read:

We hoped to further our work for diversity in swimming by having our swim caps certified for competition, so swimmers at any level don’t have to choose between the sport they love and their hair.

For younger swimmers, feeling included and seeing yourself in a sport at a young age is crucial. FINA’s recent dismissal could discourage many younger athletes from pursuing the sport as they progress through local, county and national competitive swimming.

We feel there’s always room for improvement, but there’s only so much grassroots and small brands can do – we need the top to be receptive to positive change.

A huge thanks to all who have supported us and our work so far. We don’t see this as a set back, but a chance to open up a dialogue to make a bigger difference.💧

We’re definitely disappointed at this decision but we’re hopeful that the media attention around this will help FINA understand the need for SOUL CAP to be certified. Let’s keep applying pressure! And in the meantime, if you haven’t already — sign the petition HERE to get the Crown Act passed!


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