AP

Hundreds of Afro-Brazilians took to the streets of Rio over the weekend in a Carnival street parade to encourage black Brazilian women to show off their natural hair and strut their curls.

The “curl power” parade was one of more than 100 street celebrations held in Rio ahead of Friday’s official start of Carnival, where street celebration themes can range from the playful to the more serious, touching on the country’s social or political issues.

The curl empowerment parade was sponsored by a Brazilian beauty salon chain. “We are telling women that they can leave their hair the way it naturally is, and feel confident and pretty, without denying their identity,” Leila Velez, a partner in the Natural Beauty salon told The Associated Press.

Velez said the salon wants to chip away at the perception that black women are more attractive if they straighten their hair.

Natural Beauty promoted the parade with the slogan: “If your hair is curly, no need to cry. Come relax with the curly-haired women!”

On Instagram, Brazilians offered shout-outs to the women who marched in the parade.

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"Beautiful black woman!" an Instagram user posted on this picture.

"That's right … no straightening," another person wrote on this photo.

"I want to be there…beautiful curls!" reads a message on this picture.

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At least one user Twitter user, however, questioned whether the parade's theme was sending the wrong message. "The parade is practically saying that curly hair is a problem," one Twitter user said.

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That, however, wasn't the sentiment at the parade, where even young girls proudly flashed their curls.

Zica ❤️ #blocodascacheadas #belezanatural pic.twitter.com/9xnjSNSiEm

— Jéssika (@JessikaMarina) February 8, 2015

In this photo, women hold signs that read: "I'm beautiful…admire me with moderation," "Diva curls," "A+ self-esteem," and "Powerful and curly."