Afro-textured hair is a term used to refer to the natural hair texture of certain populations of the African diaspora, where hair has not been altered by hot combs, flat irons, or chemicals (through perming, relaxer, or other straightening methods).
Each strand of this hair type grows in a tiny, spring-like coil shape. The overall effect is when compared to straight, wavy or curly hair, afro-textured hair appears thicker.
Afro-textured hair have been in the past described as “woolly”, “kinky”, “nappy”, or “spiralled”.
Afro-textured hair has been classifies as ‘type 4’. It has been describe as ‘type 4’ because of different hair types that exist by the shape of the coils.
These are the other hair types (straight hair is type 1, wavy type 2, and curly is type 3, with the letters A, B, and C used to indicate the degree of coil variation within each type), with the subcategory of type 4C being most exemplary of this hair type (Madam CJ Walker, 1997).
In the height of Afro
In the 1960s, natural afro-textured hair was transformed from a simple expression of style into a revolutionary political statement with the triumphs of the civil rights movement, and the Black power and Black pride movements of the 1960s and 1970s.
This encouraged and inspired African Americans to express their political commitments by adopting more traditionally African styles. The Afro hairstyle developed as an affirmation of Black African heritage, expressed by the phrase, “Black is beautiful.”
“Afro hair came to symbolise either a continued move toward integration in the American political system or a growing cry for Black power and nationalism.” wearing an Afro was an easily distinguishable physical expression of Black pride and the rejection of societal norms.
However, during the movement, the Black community endeavoured to define their own ideals and beauty standards, and hair became a central icon, which was “promoted as a way of challenging mainstream standards regarding hair.”
Angela Davis wore her Afro as a political statement and started a movement toward natural hair. This movement influenced a generation, including many different actresses like Diana Ross.
Jesse Jackson, a political activist and well-known cultural icon, says that “the way he wore his hair was an expression of the rebellion of the time”.
Check out our inspired icons who were rocking their natural Afro hair out.
Diana Ernestine Earle Ross is an American singer, songwriter, actress and record producer. She rose to fame as a founding member and lead singer of the vocal group The Supremes, which, during the 1960s, became Motown’s most successful act and is to this day America’s most successful vocal group as well as one of the world’s best-selling girl groups of all time.
Cicely L. Tyson is an American actress. She was nominated for the Academy and Golden Globe Awards for Best Actress for her performance as Rebecca Morgan in Sounder.
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Angela Yvonne Davis is an American political activist, scholar, and author. She emerged as a prominent counterculture activist and radical in the 1960s as a leader of the Communist Party USA, and had close relations with the Black Panther Party through her involvement in the Civil Rights Movement.
Marsha Hunt is an American singer, novelist, actress and model. Marsha Hunt was on the cover of British high fashion magazine Queen, the first black model to appear on their cover. Marsha Hunt is the mother of Karis Jagger’, Mick Jagger daughter.
Jenifer Jeanette Lewis is an American film, theater, and television actress, comedian, and singer. Lewis earned the title, “Black Mother of Hollywood”, thanks to such memorable performances as the mother of Tina Turner, alongside Angela Bassett, in What’s Love Got to Do With It(1993); alongside Denzel Washington and Whitney Houston, in The Preacher’s Wife (1996); in Think Like a Man (2012) and in the sequel Think Like a Man Too (2014).
Pamela Suzette “Pam” Grier is an American actress. She became famous in the early 1970s after starring in a string of moderately successful women in prison and blaxploitation films like The Big Bird Cage (1972), Coffy (1973), Foxy Brown (1974) and Sheba Baby (1975).
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Michael Joseph Jackson was an American singer, songwriter, record producer, dancer, and actor. Called the King of Pop, his contributions to music and dance, made him a global figure in popular culture for over four decades.
Jesse Jackson, a political activist and well-known cultural icon,
Grace Jones is a Jamaican singer, lyricist, supermodel, record producer, and actress. In 1977 Jones secured a record deal with Island Records; she moved into dance and new wave music, often collaborating with the Compass Point All Stars. She scored Top 40 entries on the UK Singles Chart with “Pull Up to the Bumper”, “I’ve Seen That Face Before”, “Private Life”, “Slave to the Rhythm” and “I’m Not Perfect”. Her most popular albums include Warm Leatherette (1980), Nightclubbing (1981), and Slave to the Rhythm (1985).
Joie Susannah Lee is an American screenwriter, film producer and actress. She has appeared in many of the films directed by her brother, Spike Lee, including She’s Gotta Have It (1986), School Daze (1988), Do the Right Thing (1989), and Mo’ Better Blues (1990). She also co-wrote and produced the film Crooklyn (1994).
Born Erica Abi Wright, better known by her stage name Erykah Badu is an American singer-songwriter, record producer, activist, and actress.
Janelle Monáe Robinson known professionally as Janelle Monáe is an American musical recording artist and actress, signed to Bad Boy Records, Wondaland Arts Society, and Atlantic Records.
Certain Black people sought to embrace beauty and affirm and accept their natural physical traits. As a result, natural afro-textured hair has became a symbol of that pride.”
In 1971 Melba Tolliver, a WABC-TV correspondent, made national headlines when she wore an Afro while covering the wedding of Tricia Nixon Cox, daughter of President Richard Nixon. The station threatened to take Tolliver off the air until the story caught national attention.
Afro-textured hair came back later on with Erykah Badu’s movement in 2005 as well as Janelle Monáe and Solange Knowles who have also played a part with their own natural Afro hair looks.
In 2014, People Magazine named actress Lupita Nyong’o as their “Most Beautiful”. Her short, afro-textured natural hair is a signature trademark, and the wide recognition of her as a beauty and style icon.
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