From Cool Counterculture To Corporate Mainstay: Embracing Afrocentric Hair
After a decade dominated by black women burying their natural glory beneath hair extensions, the past few years have seen the resurgent Afro Slay hairstyle being rocked everywhere from playgrounds in Miami to runways during New York Fashion Week. Once a sign of rebellion, sisters now proudly rock locs and afros while delivering presentations in the boardroom.
Back In The Day
It’s been a long time coming. The 90s saw a brief resurgence of the Afro among young black men, themselves shaking off the remnants of the Jheri curl trend. Lots of sisters got inspired by Janet in Poetic Justice and started rocking the big box braids. And they did look good.
But we still took that toothbrush and gelled down any edges hinting at being any other texture than baby-fine. That hat went on with a quickness when we couldn’t get to our favorite braider by the weekend. It was because we didn’t want our own, other women of color, shaking their heads at how we could go out with our hair THAT way.
Many of us grew up with mothers who forever gave us complexes about heat near our ears when they slipped up on the hot comb. Next came the relaxers, then the extensions. The ideals of nappy and proud stopped being passed down, fading with the harsh reality of needing to show up for a job interview looking “presentable”.
More Than A Moment
Viola Davis stood on the red Oscar carpet in 2012 looking radiant, resplendent…and natural. The wig she sported during campaign season was gone. She slew effortlessly, kinky curls popping, highlighted by a gorgeous sunset hue. It wasn’t just a photo op; it was a statement. It was an affirmation to black women everywhere that their hair texture was beautiful. And she was heard.
No shade to Halle. To this day you won’t find any other woman of any color who pulled off that pixie cut the way she did. She achieved what no other Black woman had, which still has yet to be repeated.
What Viola represented a state of beauty as powerful and overwhelming as Halle’s. Two Black women representing the wide range of natural hair textures. One previously celebrated as ideal. The other now demanding equal respect.
Don’t Call It A Comeback
Pam Grier and Tamara Dobson made similar statements with their respective characters of Foxxy Brown and Cleopatra Jones. Even with that, many black women still felt the need to conform to more European standards of beauty when going into the office or applying for a loan. You didn’t want to seem too dangerous, too much like a trouble-maker. Too BLACK.
Viola made it clear that this line of thinking was dead. Professional sisters proudly walk into the bank portraying class and confidence with their carefully oiled coils. Mothers send their little girls to kindergarten with their hair in twists. Miss Universe contestants now sport afros while doing their pageant waves.
Natural Is Beautiful
The hair pattern doesn’t matter. It’s the confidence displayed as the world gets wise to the fact that there’s nothing scary about natural black hair. Society benefits when black women feel free to embrace the natural beauty they were born with.
Twist it, lock it, cornrow it, whatever. Don’t sweat the teeny-weeny afro when starting out on a natural hair journey. Check YouTube for countless videos on taking care of your particular hair texture. Just never again shy away from Afro Slaying out of fear or shame.
Represent the natural you with pride!