Saturday, September 14, 2013

Whatever Happened to the Afro Hairstyle?

A writer writes!

While reading several books regarding events in the 1960s, I admired the accompanying photographs of Black  men and women wearing their Afro hairstyles proudly.  The Afro hairstyle, distinctive, majestic and unique to African American people, with some non Blacks later attempting to copy it.  The Afro was a style which continued into the late 1970's and then started to disappear replaced by fascination again with straight, chemical induced curls, or weaved in long hair.

The Afro hairstyle was a fashion and social statement.  It was OUR hairstyle and we embraced it proudly. For Black men it meant no longer having to apply a lye like substance to our hair to get the "process" straight hair look.  We no longer needed to look like we had the hair of Caucasian males.  Our natural hair was "good hair".  Before the Afro hairstyle became prominent, I recall watching my older brothers have the "process" hairstyle applied to their hair to give them straight hair.  Or Black men tried to get wavy natural hair.  Before the Afro, natural hair was deemed as being bad hair.

The Afro hairstyle was freedom to just be ourselves and not to worry that we didn't have all the traits of other racial groups. Why did it go away?  The impact of entertainers moving to the infamous jheri curl may have been a factor in many teens and young adults leaving the Afro behind.  The Afro hairstyle has often been tied to the more aggressive actions of Blacks in America.  Maybe it was too visually imposing of a hairstyle to fit into the American mainstream of acceptance?

Of course, not everyone had the ability to wear an Afro.  Heredity often dictated how long you would have enough hair to wear an Afro!  But, while we could, we wore it proudly.  When I see young Black men now wearing pants that hang off their behinds, I wonder what pride are they displaying?  Maybe they should trade in the sagging pants for an Afro hairstyle?

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