BHM Blog Series: Those We Lost in the Natural Hair Movement

Post Image - BHM - Those We Lost

During 2014, we unfortunately lost three important women known for encouraging us to embrace our beauty and accept our curls. They each had their own unique style and way of inspiring us based on their personal experiences as Black women. Without them, 2015 will not be the same.

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Lupita Nyong’o and Black Beauty

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People magazine has just named Lupita Nyong’o as #1 on the “50 Most Beautiful” list!

I am thrilled that an African woman AND a woman with natural hair, makes this list!  Lupita has been outspoken about her journey towards accepting and loving her natural beauty and the challenges she faced growing up in a world that defined beauty as light skin and long straight hair.  Lupita is not just amazingly beautiful, she has enchanted us with her grace and courage.  I am proud of Lupita for her bravery and honesty in sharing her experiences.

Having a woman of color on People’s 50 Most Beautiful list, let alone being acknowledged in a popular mainstream magazine does not happen often.  Since 1990, there have only been two African American women (Halle Berry in 2003, and Beyonce Knowles in 2012) who have made the #1 spot on the list.  Magazine covers and other major media outlets play a huge role in influencing how we all think about beauty and what beauty looks like.  Traditionally, those same major media outlets have not recognized African American women’s beauty.  My hope is that People magazine continues to recognize women of color for their beauty, talents & compassion and use their massive platform to contribute to redefining beauty standards.

Congratulations to Lupita Nyong’o!

Photo by Lanigirod Photograhy

Photo by Lanigirod Photos

 

Source: The above drawing is provided by Lanigirod Photos.  He is available for commissioned work and is able to create using almost any medium of art requested from graphic design to visual artwork to photography to videography.  He’s amazing and also created by blog’s banner.

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Black History Month, Part 1: Shaved Heads

In honor of Black History Month, I am going to share some facts about African American hair throughout history.  During this month, we tend to focus on popular leaders and activists, the civil rights movement, and slavery.  Very little of what we learn is about the popular fashion or the beauty standards in the African American communities of those periods.  Just like other forms of art, hairstyles have always served as a representation of contemporary political and social themes.  Looking at the popular hairstyles, styling methods, and social opinions of African American hair throughout history, can reveal a unique perspective on our past.  So, I’ll be posting information specific to this topic throughout this month.  See below for the first fact.

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Fact #1: One of the first things slave traders did to those in bondage was shave their heads.  This was done to immediately shame and dehumanize their captives.  Africans held great pride for their hair.  In many African tribes, hairstyles were used to communicate the age, religion, marital status, and wealth of its wearer.  A large amount of time was spent, grooming, combing, washing, oiling, and braiding the hair for greater health and length.  Hair was considered art with various styles and adornments such as flowers, shells, and features.

Hair held great spiritual significance to African people.  Some even believed that since the hair is located on the highest point of the body, it is closest to the heavens, therefore messages from the gods and spirits must pass through the hair to get to the soul.  Thus, African hair in its natural state was respected, worshipped, and treasured.  To take away such an important part of one’s identity, by shaving their heads, served as an effective way to disgrace and humiliate those in bondage.

References: Byrd, A. L., & Tharps, L. L. (2001). Hair Story: Untangling the roots of black hair in America. New York: St. Martin’s Press.

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