Friday, June 18, 2010

When did we stop Loving our Natural hair?

I have always been a lover of the 70's, with their big beautiful afros and expressive, ethnic style.
I know black people, and all people of color faced  a lot of racial injustices, as we still are, but i really would like to know when our hair stopped being good enough?
When did we go from wanting to keep the perfect fro to feeling like we "need" a relaxer? Don't be ashamed girl, let Your Africa Show!

I mean, even back then we were relaxing and using things like the "blow out kit" but we still kept texture in our hair, we were not perming to the bone straight, lifeless looking hair i see girls walking around with today. As a professional hairstylist, i really had to think back and wonder why there are so many girls with broken off, lifeless, over processed, relaxed hair. Looking back at pictures from our parent's generations and just a few years before and after, women of color never had hair that was just falling out, breaking off, lifeless...

When we had short haircuts it was because we wanted short haircuts. I have never seen a picture of my mom or any of her friends with missing edges or uneven, thin, broken off hair and yes, they used to relax their hair. Every old picture i've seen in a "colored" person's house of their older family members, the women were always beautifully dressed and their hair was always beautiful, full, and well kept, whatever the style.

It's so sad now to hear stories of girls who want to go natural but their mother won't let them, or girls who have never even seen their natural hair because they have basically been relaxed from birth (i have 2 little cousins in this situation now), even girls who have been forced to perm their hair or had their hair permed against their will
I really commend mothers who chose to stay natural or at least keep their children natural, as it is truly a beautiful thing.
What's even more sad is how little they educate you in cosmetology school on "ethnic hair" types, unless you go to a more ethnic school, but even then, its rare that they would teach you about natural hair and hair care, as our hair in cosmetology textbooks is referred to as "Coarse, kinky, or overly curly"
WTF! (excuse my lingua) No one looks at an asian and says their hair is "overly straight"

I am in no way (as Curly Film Chick would put it) a natural hair nazzi, as i have been through every hair styling option imaginable, but i do believe in hair health and let's face it, hair is always healthiest when in it's most natural state. My point is, love the hair you were born with, and if you decide to alter it in anyway, do it for a change, not because you hate your hair or think it isn't good enough, and whatever you do, please take care of it :) 

 Our hair used to be an outward expression of our pride and beauty as a people, i hope these images help remind us of it.


  1. I'm guessing in the early 80s...

  2. Good post SP. I have a few theories as to why this is and I agree with beautifulms that it was in the 80s for many sociological reasons...

  3. i would have to agree there were many sociological reasoning behind it but i love it

  4. it was a trend driven by the social climate. Notice almost EVERYONE wore afros. There wasn't the myriad of styles and accessories that women rock today, it was just straight up fros. Even in Africa, everyone rocked fros. My mom actually told me that most women didn't even take good care of their hair. Some wouldn't wash it (and of course there was no co-washing) or do anything to it apart from slap some sheen on it and comb it out and she said alot would walk around with stank hair. She said guys actually took better care of their hair LOL. There was no real dive into understanding OUR hair, it was more just a shallow reflection of the mentality that just stayed as nothing more than a trend in the entire african diaspora. I think things are different now. People are actually LEARNING how to take care of our hair, they are truly understanding it's needs and wants, what really goes into taking care of it and the inherent beauty of it. It's appeared not as a statemenet of a sociological movement but it has LED to a sociological (and personal) movement of black women truly loving and knowing themselves as they really are. That's why I think although not ALL that have gone natural will stay natural, a good portion will. And that's amazing! I can just imagine in 5-10 years there will be so many beautiful heads of natural hair bouncing around and what makes me even happier is for the first time, little black girls will see something like this and hopefully will still see this as they grow into young women.

  5. Wow, thanks for sharing that! I never looked at it that way, as our hair being a "trend" back in those days but it totally makes sense. It's so great that we are now reaching out and helping one another to learn about something so much deeper than hair, but our natural hair especially. I hope these years are not days we look back to as natural hair being the "the trend again." I can't wait until the naturals outweigh the weaves and relaxers forever!!!

  6. I have been working on a project for a littlewhile now: I am trying to digitally recreate one of those black velvet paintings I used to see around back in the 70's. There were alot of images of beautiful black women with full afros. However, I am suprised how difficult it has been to find any images online of black women with full afros from the 70's (other than Pam Grier). not only do women not wear their hair naturally, it's almost like people are trying to forget about it entirely.


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