February was Black History Month but going forward we’re celebrating all year. I decided to purchase my very first Afro wig to embrace a cultural hairstyle that embodies grace,sex appeal, and culture. To some, afros may not have the same influence but I created a different narrative within present time. In my neighborhood most women find different ways to normalize straight textured hair with the influence of weaves, wigs, and other straight styles.
As women we now have the choice to chose what style fits our mood but after a long day of adjusting ourselves for societies acceptance we get down to our afros, straight backs, and my favorite Da Bonnet. I wanted to try a bold look to pay hommage to the foxy ladies that came before me and somewhat travel back in time so I can understand how it felt to embrace a cultural style that we don’t see on a daily basis. It was quite a head turner but as a black woman, that’s regular for us.
The etymology of Afro derived from Afro- American which was the original “natural” look within the black community in the early 1960’s to 1970s. Over the years as people of the black decent, we’re taught that our natural kinky textured hair is unkept, undone, and socially unacceptable. This has been shown on television in various shows and movies to show others that afro kinky hair is wrong or sometimes “dirty”. I love the representation of black men and women embracing their hair in todays society. When I first got introduced to Issa Rae, she was one of the first women who looked like me on television that didn’t have a 30 inch weave down her back but she tried various styles with her natural hair in her comedy-drama series Insecure. Issa displayed an array of natural hairstyles which influenced many black women who who can relate to her to try different styles on their hair despite the length. The mentality of long hair in our community was another way to limit our beliefs of beauty and I really love discovering beautiful women who are shamelessly embracing their natural hair.
The first discovery of the relaxer began with Garrett Augustus Morgan in 1909. His hair cream was found accidentally when trying to find a solution to ease friction of sewing machine in his tailor shop. Garrett Morgan tested his cream on a neighboring dog’s fur and with the success of the cream, he established G.A. Morgan Hair Refining Company and began selling his product to Black/mixed people. Relaxers later became the best way to conform to European-American standards and was introduced to the black community as creamy crack or cream relaxers. The tingling substance made us feel cooler, sexier, and socially acceptable. The relaxer companies began to market their product with black men and women showing their love for their new texture.
This reminds me of a scene from my favorite movie Coming to America 1 when the Soul Glo commercial came on and the actors we’re depicting a very sensual and sexy looser curl fro for black people. The movie then showed a scene where a few cast members got up from the couch and their hair was dripping of so many products in order to maintain this silky style. Unlike the classic Afro that only requires oils and a afro pic to maintain the shape and to subconsciously to keep your hair from attracting any lint or anything that can latch on to it.
The Afro embodies grace,stature, and confidence because it fills the space where others tend to blend right in. If you walk into a room with people who are not able to wear an afro, the room may seem “normal” and here I came strolling through my local drugstore in the isles with my BIG BOLD AFRO. I know some people were shocked by the amount of hair I had on my head so naturally some will stare and other brothers and sisters complimented my statement piece because in today’s society its extremely rare.
The afro style required less maintenance than the modern day Frontals or weaves because it mimicked the natural texture of black people across the board. It was socially inappropriate to wear your “natural hair” in “professional” environments including work or school from 1960-2019. Men and women were not granted jobs or access to professional opportunities unless their hair was in tact or tamed. In 2019, a bill was passed to regulate discrimination amongst Black people and their hair. Unfortunately the stereotypes will continue as people who do not quite understand our hair, that’s not up to us to change. What we can do though is continue to embrace all forms or natural hair styles that makes you feel confident.
Society will continue to underestimate black excellence until someone of a different decent rocks our styles, makes it “trendy”, then capitalize. Owning your afro, kinky,coily hair is an act of self love and respect for our culture and self acceptance. We have the power to create our own depiction of our own hair both good and bad because sometimes we do need to switch it up. We have that ability to constantly switch it up, try different colors, textures and lengths with your hair but never be afraid of the hair that grows from your scalp ; It’s beautiful !