In this post, I will ask my readers, what is more defiant of the dominant culture? Please let me know what you think. I will give my argument below and let you know which style I feel is the most powerful at resisting Euro-centric beauty ideals, and the best at celebrating Afro-centric beauty.
Without a doubt, women of African descent wearing our beautifully billowy, voluminous natural hair is a direct hit at resisting European oppression and domination. It was even outlawed in the 1700s starting with the South Carolina’s Negro Act for women of colour to wear their hair naturally in public! (Why you so jealous, SC?). Black hair is beautiful hair, and we have come a long way to accept it, learn to care for it and develop self-love by embracing it. By refusing to wear our hair straightened like European women, it is a revolutionary act and one that has helped to unify thousands, if not millions of African sisthren.
Headwrapping originating in Sub-Saharan Africa prior to the slave trade was a style that was modest and also telling of one’s social status. However, American slavery has tarnished the splendour of headwrapping by turning it into a badge of shame.
This is why I believe that by continuing to wrap our heads as we have since time immemorial is a powerful tool to dismantle racist beliefs about the devaluation of Afrikan females. Wearing a headwrap is likened to a Queen wearing a crown, and it draws attention upwards and complements the face. Furthermore, with the majestically coloured wraps and quality fabrics we are wrapping our hair with today, in elaborate styles nonetheless, it is a far cry from the piece of common white cloth used in the days of slavery. It moreso connects us with our heritage, history and culture and supplies us with the infinite power that is knowledge of self.
So which is it? Natural hair or headwrap?
While our natural hair is incredible and diverse, and should be worn out freely and proudly, in my honest opinion, donning a regal headwrap evokes images of my ancestors in Africa. I feel more Afrikan in a beautifully printed headwrap worn gloriously and unapologetically on my head than I do with my best groomed Afro-puff. It may be the other way for some women and equally for others. So there you have it!
Photo credit: @mudimbilenka :IG: