For centuries, Black hair has been a source of strength, pride, and identity for African Americans. From the days of enslavement to today, the perception of Black hair has evolved from a source of shame to an expression of beauty and self-love. Let’s take a look at how far we’ve come in the history of Black hair.
Originally, the purpose of elaborate hairstyles and braids was to communicate in African culture. It revealed your status, background, and tribe in the early days of African culture.
The Early Days of Enslavement
During the early days of enslavement in America, slaves were not allowed to maintain their natural hairstyles. Instead, they were forced to conform to European standards. According to the article Hair & History, the culture shock on Africans during the slave trade erased centuries of cherishing our natural hair. Slave masters treated slaves badly and referred to their hair as ‘wool’ as a way to dehumanize them. Slave traders even placed a high value on slaves with lighter skin and smoother texture. Putting an emphasis on the Western standard of beauty.
Although oppression was at every door when it came to black hair, slaves still used their hair as an asset. Many slaves used their hair to share maps of escape routes with the braiding patterns.
The Civil Rights Movement
The Civil Rights Movement changed everything when it came to Black hair. During this time, many African Americans began embracing their kinky, curly textures as an act of defiance against oppressive cultural expectations. This period marked a major shift in the perception of Black hair—from something that should be hidden away to something that should be celebrated and embraced proudly.
The Natural Hair Revolution
In recent years, there's been a resurgence in the natural hair movement among African American women in particular. Thanks to social media and influencers like Naptural85 and MahoganyCurls who have helped normalize natural hairstyles such as afros, braids, locs, twists, and more by showcasing them proudly on their platforms. Nowadays, it's not uncommon to see natural hairstyles being worn confidently by people worldwide!
We have come a long way since African Americans were shamed for their natural curls and kinks—nowadays those same features are seen as sources of pride and beauty! The history of Black hair is one full of resilience and perseverance; it is an example for generations past and present that beauty comes in all shapes and sizes—even if those shapes don't conform to Eurocentric standards! It is essential for us all to remember our roots (pun intended) as we continue this journey toward self-love by embracing every curl along the way!
Join the #StyldLifeCrownClub and level up your hair care routine regardless of race or texture! Our club does not discriminate: if you've got curls, we want to help fine-tune your look. Grow out those glorious ringlets with StyldLife's all-inclusive curly tips today!