Prior to the 1960’s, most African Americans tried to mimic the styles of the predominantly white population. They altered their hair using harsh chemicals or extreme heat to break down the bonds in their hair making it straight. Madame CJ Walker popularized the use of the hot comb which with time became the norm.
During the 1960’s, African-American Civil Rights Movement brought a renewed sense of identity to the African American community which also resulted in a redefinition of personal style that included an appreciation of African beauty and aesthetics. As a result the Black is Beautiful movement was born. This movement which spread to much of the black world, aimed to dispel the notion that African features were ugly. The elimination of African features such as curly, kinky hair and dark skin using bleach was discouraged. In a sense, going natural back then was viewed as a sign of rebellion and defiance. The black people were making a political statement by embracing their natural features. The Caucasian equivalent of the movement was the hippie culture. Hippies let their untreated hair grow long. African American entertainers such as Jimi Hendrix, The Jackson 5, Pam Grier and others endorsed the movement by wearing their hairs in big Afros.
In the 1970’s braiding of hair and cornrows came into vogue. These were further enhanced by wearing beads in the hair. Unfortunately the Afro was short lived and was quickly taken over by the Jheri curl and perms in the 1980’s which quickly took us back to chemical dependence.
However, lately the trend has been going back to natural hair. More and more African Americans are opting to go natural, only this time it is not about making a political statement, rather for health and aesthetic reasons. We are now more educated about the dangers of the harsh chemicals which with improper use could lead to hair breakage and early baldness.
Afro -textured hair is no longer viewed as being stubborn and difficult to manage.There are more natural hairstyles today, which give us more options allowing us to have more fun with our hair. The relaxer industry has experienced a huge drop in sales as the trend goes towards natural hair.
My hope and prediction is that in 10-15 years from now relaxers will be obsolete,a thing of the past, something we only read about in history books because this time round, the fro is here to STAY!
What’s your prediction?
Definition: The Afro (bellasugar.com)
Natural Hair:: Quick tips and Hair Styles for Transitioners (enjoyingthejourneys.com)
What is your reasoning behind going natural with your hair? (beautifulnaps.wordpress.com)
“Let’s Talk About Hair” RBTL (24sevencurls.wordpress.com)
Trying different styles for Dreadloc’s~Creme De Loc’s (afroetic.com)
The “natural hair” movement?! (afroetic.com)
Goapele Talks Natural Hair & Mommyhood (theindustrycosign.wordpress.com)