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The History of Black Hair, Beauty and Versatility

Hair is a fashion statement. It is a way to express yourself, and it’s a representation of who you are as an individual. To celebrate Black hair in all of its glory and beauty, let’s take a deep-dive into the history of Black hair and how it has shaped American culture today.

Box braids are a common style of braids that young Black girls and women get throughout their life. Although white celebrities and influencers like to attribute the style to themselves, the true history of the hairstyle speaks for itself. Box braids used to represent a woman’s marital status, age, religion, wealth and rank within the West African community. Today, braids are often done as a protective style and a symbol of Black elegance and culture, showcasing all the ways Black hair can be versatile. 

Photo: Tahiti Spears on Unsplash

Bantu Knots are another stunning example of a classic Black hairstyle. The hair is evenly parted multiple times and tightly twisted around itself to create a knot. This style is rich with African roots, as “Bantu” translates to “people” in many African languages. These knots are also known as Zulu knots because the style originated with the Zulu people in South Africa. Rihanna, Mel B. and FKA Twigs are a few celebrities who have rocked the style over the years. 

Dreadlocks or “locs” have a long history in Egypt, India and Jamaica, whether or not the specific origin of this style will ever be pinpointed. Locs have become a predominant symbol when connecting with our culture, Black culture. Locs come in all different sizes, lengths, kinds and colors, but it’s safe to say Black people are the primary wearers of this style.

Photo: Humphrey Muleba on Unsplash

Black hair, in general, has a long history of appropriation and has often been categorized as unprofessional when worn in the workplace. Within the last 10 years, the military and several states have updated their stance on appropriate hairstyles in the workplace, previously banning common Black styles. 

Black hair is luscious, luxurious and a crown of glory. Acknowledging the African roots and attributing it to Black culture is only right.  

Written by Anissa Durham
Featured Photo: Autumn Goodman
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