The modern hair movement came about as a trigger of South African school girls not allowed their natural look. So once again people felt freedom from slavery and colonialism is meaningless because they are being forced to look a certain way. Although it is acceptable to have a school dress code and a reasonable style yet to insist black hair be seen in only a particular form is an issue that reflects challenges of black history. Years ago it was banned that black women wear an intricately designed or woven hair style. The argument was that, it distracted the public so black women were forced to cover their hair or be fined. After years of spending too much money buying the chemicals to transform their hair, some felt under economic pressure to market hair products. Many women suffered a damage from unsuitable chemicals so lost their hair as seen in the Tina Turner case so women wore wigs on stage. In addition, Walker the first black female billionaire decided to manufacture the suitable alternative for the black hair. Walker made her fortune by developing and marketing a line of beauty and hair products for black women through her Madame C.J. Walker Manufacturing Company, the successful still today. The issue of hair can be sensitive as it is an issue of cultural identity. Afrocentrics strongly believe everything must be an entirely black to feel truly black as a person. Others choose convenience and time constraints to adapt to what works best for them go live their lives.
The cultural attitudes to hair is not read about often in a mainstream textbook. It is a practice based on each community or the circumstances surrounding the birth of a child. First hair is not cut until certain rites are performed to bring the baby outdoors. After the baby hair is cut and preserved or given to the shrine if it is thought the gods helped conceive that child. The hair is left uncut until family prepares a ritual feast to thank the gods. That hair is dedicated to the shrine and every year so must pay homage to the gods. Some shrines require that child to serve them so cannot cut hair like the Nazirites in Bible. That hair is not to be cut so at times looks like lunatic’s hair. After ceremony others are free to do as they like with their hair once dedicated. The Bible recommends moderation of a style chosen so it does not intrude into time for work, caring for family, chores, cooking, washing or used to seduce and promote lust. This meant some covered their hair permanently keeping natural. Others spent days, months weaving hair requiring special stools to lean head on to sleep because of the style. Grooming was done at home mostly before hair dressers came about. Mostly plaited or woven in beautiful artistic styles that had now developed into annual hair competition for the best hair style of the year. So fans attend to pick new tips and to showcase latest designs. Dilemma happens when work ethics demands a different hairstyle preferred be covered if manufacturing food or in similar jobs. It is balancing choice, taste combined with budget. So hair movement now teaches people on TV, YouTube how to maintain black hair efficiently. Others learn from home to groom black hair. Numerous shops are also available to get the right product for a hair texture. Black history has come a long way and depending on a choice of career or personal style can display flair especially if in art industry. The trend has seen also a mixture of the use of extensions to hold shorter hair in place to be more secured not to undo if in the middle of doing something.
Transitions have taken place due to the imposed laws in the past banning the natural hair. Generations have created own methods of maintain black hair. So exhibitions take place bringing essential awareness of traditional history of uses of combs before slavery or colonialism. Museums display black hairstyles of the subject of exhibitions of freed slave girl, music stars Michael Jackson and Bob Marley, and James Bond actress Naomie Harris. Black hair has been an integral feature of black history from an African tribal styles to dreadlocks and the afro. Exhibition show significance of hair in black culture to take a look at key styles.
African origin hairstyle
Gold is often interwoven in the hair for special occasions. Headress, hairstyles indicated status and identities across Africa, including Cameroon (left), Ivory Coast (top) and southern Africa. In early African civilisations, hairstyles indicates a person’s family background, tribe and social status. Everything about personal identity could be learnt looking at the hair,” says journalist Lori Tharps, who co-wrote the book Hair Story about the history of black hair. When men from the Wolof tribe (in modern Senegal and The Gambia) went to war they wore a braided style, she explains. But women in mourning would either not “do” her hair or adopt a subdued style. “What’s more, many believe hair, given its close location to the skies, was the conduit for spiritual interaction with God.”
Slavery & Emancipation
A comb and jug from post-emancipation period at the exhibition. It is estimated that 11,640,000 Africans left continent between the 16th and 20th Centuries due to transatlantic slave trade. These slaves took their African customs with them, including their specially-designed combs. “Their key is the bigger width between the teeth because African-type hair is very fragile,” says Dr Sally-Ann Ashton, curator of afro comb exhibition at Cambridge’s Fitzwilliam Museum in 2013. “Out of all different hair types, it’s probably fragile so if yanking fine tooth comb through hair going to do an awful lot of damage.” During the 19th Century, slavery was abolished in much of the world, including the United States in 1865. Many black people felt pressure to fit in with mainstream white society and adjusted hair accordingly. “Black people felt compelled to smoothen their hair and texture to fit in easier, and to move in society camouflaged almost,” says exhibition producer Aaryn Lynch.Many black people, such as entertainer Josephine Baker, used such products to straighten their hair. Post-emancipation era is time of ‘great oppression’ because black people to go through an intensive method to smooth their hair. “Men and women put their hair in a hot chemical mixture that almost burnt their scalp, so comb it to make it look European silky.” The industry grew to an extent so black entrepreneur Madame CJ Walker, sold hair growth products, shampoos and ointments in African-American market recorded as first self-made millionairess in US by Guinness World Records.
Civil rights era blackhair
The clenched fist comb symbolised the black pride along with Afros, as sported by girls in Liverpool, which also had a strong civil rights movement. The afro hair style, which emerged in the 1960s during civil rights movement, symbol of rebellion, pride empowerment, says Mr Lynch.” Black people protested against racial segregation and oppression, the eye-catching style took off as assertion of black identity in contrast to previous trends inspired by mainstream white fashions. And the African (or afro) comb re-emerged. “It was never lost in Africa of course,” says Dr Ashton. “But this was the advent of black power politics. “The afro hairstyle became very popular but it is quite high-maintenance.” Response to the racial politics of the time, the fist comb with a handle shaped like black power salute was designed in the 1970s. A lot of people who born in the 1980s and 90s think the salute is associated with Nelson Mandela. He just happened to use that salute when he was freed from jail” says Dr Ashton.
Roots of Dreadlocks
A Liverpudlian woman with dreadlocks around 1990. In the 1930s, Rastafari theology developed in Jamaica from the ideas of Marcus Garvey, a political activist who wanted to improve the status of his fellow blacks. Believers are forbidden to cut their hair and instead twist it into dreadlocks. Not clear where the style originates from, although there are references in the Old Testament and the Hindu deity Shiva is also sometimes depicted wearing them. The profile of religion grew significantly in the latter half of the 20th Century, as “roots” movement developed back to origins of African-Caribbean culture. Its profile increased following the success of musician Bob Marley in the 1970s, with dreadlocks becoming a common sight in British cities. Afro dreadlocks remain most distinctive black hairstyle among ethnic groups. “The problem remains style of hair reflects each individual’s choices so hair is interpreted by a white mainstream gaze and interpretation often wrong as well as racist,” author Ms Tharps says. “Many people make assumptions an afro implies some sort of militancy or that wearing dreadlocks means predilection for smoking pot.”
The singer Beyoncé popularised glitter weave after attending 2010 Grammys, while men like actors David Oyelowo and Will Smith opt for shaven or shorn look. Black hair care is now a major industry, conservatively estimated to be worth about £530m ($774m) last year. It is often debated whether some trends still symbolise a desire to fit in with a mainstream Western look, Mr Lynch says. “Do we feel like we’re compelled to appropriate white culture or is it now a choice, convenience or whatever is in fashion?” Women’s hair extensions known as weaves have been popular but there is also a reported revival in natural hair interpreted as styles not altered by chemicals. “Its important the movement going on and in America it’s a lot bigger than it’s over here,” says Dr Ashton. “So if you go to the States, you see lots of African-American women with natural hair so starting to see that more in this country but there’s still nowhere near same number in Britain as there are in the States.” Many are browsing online to learn more about natural hair care – knowledge of which declined among black communities in the West after slavery. But changes in working patterns in the past 60 years, especially for women, means there can be less time to spend on maintenance, says Dr Ashton. “I think one thing a lot of non-black people don’t realise is just how much maintenance African-type hair is. If somebody says I’m washing my hair tonight, it can be like a three-hour job excuse for not going out.”
HAIR Exhibition Museum Liverpool’s black history. The city became centre of the Atlantic slave trade in the late 18th Century. Liverpool’s black community began with the slave trade and is among the oldest in Europe. In the 1750s, black residents of the city included sailors, freed slaves and the student sons of African rulers. By the 1780s, port was seen as the European capital of the transatlantic slave trade with profits boosting the city’s development. In total, Liverpool ships transported some 1.5m slaves from Africa. After world war one 5,000 black people in Liverpool tensions riots erupted as servicemen returned looking for jobs. Riots broke out in inner-city Toxteth in 1981 involving black and white youths following economic or racial problems. Beautiful black hair is still in fashion.