Black women’s hairstyles have always made a statement — intentionally or unintentionally. And it’s easy to figure out why, if you consider that merely existing as a black person in America has historically carried its own set of political and social implications. Hair is an important part of black culture, and over the past hundred years, we’ve seen so many changes, not only in the hairstyles (which happens anyway as time passes) but also the attitudes towards black hair. Black women have gone from straightening their strands in order to fit in with Eurocentric standards of beauty, to rocking full-on Afros to challenge mainstream society’s negative feelings about natural hair.
But while popular styles have changed, one thing’s remained constant: that cool factor. Whether they were rocking short, cropped finger waves slicked down with pomade, or laying down their baby hairs in elaborate patterns, black women have been putting their own spin on popular mainstream styles and creating totally new trends. Trends that just so happen to inspire people from all walks of life.
But black women’s ever-changing hairstyles represent so much more than just fashion. They have and continue to speak to the social and political climate in our society, an indication of how far we’ve come and how much further we need to go in order to reach a point of true equality. Such is the power of black hair.
Here, we take a look back at a few popular hairstyles that trended for black women over the last century. They not only show the versatility and resilience of black hair, but that no matter the style choices, black hair has always been beautiful.
More great reads on black hair:
100 Years of Hair Color: