Natural Black Hair: The History of Afro

For many years blacks wore their hair straightened and relaxed. Naturally, black hair has a kinky texture which makes it denser than that of other races and as such it has been stereotyped as unprofessional.

Events leading to afro origination

In the ’90s the black female hairdo constituted a stringent rejection in communities. Black women wore their hair straight, using protective pomade to relax their hair and a heated metal comb to get it straightened. However, maintaining a straight hairstyle came with limitations because black hair only stays straightened until touched by water. Certain routines were avoided to keep a straightened hair including, avoiding the rain, swimming, and washing their hair only before straightening immediately. Society portrayed straightened hair as the definition of healthy hair, beauty, and finesse.Women who couldn’t maintain a straightened hair went out covering up their hair until a movement was created, young black women stormed in with an unusual hairstyle now called afro.This overturned the definition of beauty and spread from one black community to another with many embracing and showing off the natural look of their hair. The new hairstyle became the rave of the moment, proudly black-owned to date. However, this revolution did not unfold easily. The change was met with discrimination from many in society including the black communities.The journey to the “becoming of afro hairstyle” unfolded in different stages;

The inception of the afro hairstyle

The idea of rocking an afro hairstyle started as a need to make a statement and break from the norm. With time this grew into something bigger, it transcended into a movement for black liberation on the grounds of racial pride and identity.The Afro hairstyle was first introduced in the late 1950s by a group of young African-American black female dancers and jazz singers. They wore their hair kinky, setting them apart from every other person. The hairstyle had no tag, label or name so, when it gained attention from the black press, it was commonly referred to as wearing hair ‘close-cropped’. Wearing hair close-cropped became common amongst black female activists, following the civil rights movement. Originators of Afro hairstyle were part of this movement and as such used their natural hair to express their feelings of racial pride, influencing other black females to follow suit.

The Popularization of Afro

During the 1960s, Afro hairstyle began gaining popularity amongst black students across various states majorly females, as a tool for showing their pride in black identity. Female student civil rights activists at Howard college and other historic African American colleges stopped relaxing and straightening their hair whilst attending classes and this brought about bad stares, and ridicule from fellow students. Nonetheless, the movement continued and many joined. The afro hairstyle also changed. People began grooming their hair to a longer length unrelaxed and brushing out their hair to a fuller form.Over time males followed suit, rocking the afro hairstyle. Between the late 1960s and 1970’s early at the peak of afro hairstyle fame, the “Black is Beautiful movement” was born.Blacks all over the world including performing artists were seen rocking Afro, exercising black cultural pride and matching in groups with their hair proudly blown out and preaching the word ‘black is beautiful. These events brought about the word ‘Afro’ meaning African.

Significance of Afro

In all the years of the existence of Afro, it has been a representation of African roots, celebrating black culture, black beauty and defying Eurocentric beauty standards.It has also been a means of driving a sense of communalism amongst all its wearers thereby, firmly indicating a stand against racial prejudice. Read more about African fashion, culture and lifestyle.


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