Kinks. Coils. Curls. CROWN! Whatever you call it, natural hair has been at the forefront of black culture since the 1960s. Angela Davis, one of the most renowned activists during the Black Panther Movement, made the afro famous as a symbol of political progressiveness and “Black Power” during times of segregation. The style became so famous, you started to see celebrities in pop culture embrace the style, like Diana Ross, the Jackson 5, and many other artists at the time. Unfortunately, styles like this were not deemed “appropriate” or “professional,” and were even called “militant” because it challenged the norms of what Western standards deemed as acceptable.
In the 80s and 90s, natural hair wasn’t as common anymore due to the Westernized standard of chemically altering natural hair to mimic another texture, with products such as relaxers or the famous Jheri curl. People within the black community often retreated from rocking their natural hair due to the backlash from Western culture, because it was judged as “nappy,” “ugly,” and “problematic.” This way of thinking continued into the new millennia until the late 2000s.
In the 2010s, you begin to see a shift in black hair, and the culture surrounding it, with women doing “big chops.” Black women were cutting off their relaxed hair and became confident with their kinks and curls, giving a new meaning to being black and beautiful. Now, you’ll see women of all ages and hair types purposefully strutting their manes with confidence and poise. Even Corporate America is beginning to shift it’s viewpoints on what hairstyles are considered “professional” in an office environment.
No matter the length or texture, natural hair will continue to be a symbol of history, beauty, and power within the black community.