What kind of hair do you have? Is it long? Is it short? Does it lie straight? Does it have a little kink to it? All of these questions may apply to the average female who looks in the mirror and feels something about the way her hair looks. I’m not here to tell you that one hair style is better than the other; rather, I’m here to explain what I’ve noticed in the past few months, specifically within the African-American culture and the way they have pertained to their hair. For quite some time, the popularity of braids was surging throughout the media in which complex patterns are formed by connecting three or more strands of hair together. People, such as Alicia Keys and Zendaya, rocked this look as they were proud to show off their tightly knit hairstyle. However, within the past three years, a change has occurred within this race: the afro has made its way back into popularity. No longer are women torturing themselves by sitting for endless hours to get their hair braided or going to salons to spend hundreds of dollars to straighten out every twisted aspect of their hair; rather, they’ve, what I like to call, “let it fro.”
The Let It Fro Movement, as I will refer to it from now on, has gained recently popularity with the African-American culture for various reasons, but the main one I would have to say is self-expression and acclamation of saying that “black is beautiful.” Because for many years this culture has been appropriated, as singers such as Stacy Ann “Fergie” Ferguson and Ke$ha have copied many things ranging from the braided hairstyle to specific types of dance moves, I am a firm believer that the afro is an attempt to not only make society aware of the cultural appropriation, but to also express the beauty that exists in being natural and free. It may seem odd that the Afro could say so much about a culture, but in all reality, it does. The afro highlights every feature of the face as it extends as far or as short as you want it to. Now, don’t get me wrong, I’m not telling you to go chop all of your hair off and acclaim this natural look; rather, I’m just expressing what I have seen and what the afro has come to mean for me. It is a thing of beauty — raw, freely grown beauty that cannot be worn by just anyone. It takes a confident, bold woman to decide that she is no longer going to subscribe to what has been portrayed for years in the media — the whole “the straighter the better” ideology.
Countless magazines, such as Vogue and Cosmopolitan, have portrayed this ideology, as a broad spectrum of women on their front covers have a common factor: their hair falls perfectly in place and looks as if it could conquer the world. This is where the afro, I would like to argue, comes into play. Not only does the afro stand out in a literal and physical sense, but it contradicts the “effortlessly beautiful” woman that is seen on nearly every magazine cover or brand-name website. The Afro is not about the fixed and made-up life; rather, as an expression, it roams freely and provides a statement about an alternative to being “perfect.”
Within the American culture, we are constantly fed this belief that the more conformed you are to society, the easier it will be to navigate your life. From magazines to modern-day movies, it would seem as though conformity and “straightness” have the upper hand; however, by means of simply going natural, the afro is making its way to the top of the food chain. As an admirer of the Let It Fro Movement, I have one thing that I would like to say to these women who are bringing this look to the surface: thank you. Thank you for showing society that it is not necessary to dedicate all of your time to your hair. Thank you for not being afraid of the strange looks someone may give you based upon the way the kinks stick out against the wind. Finally, and most importantly, thank you for being yourself. Women of all ages, races and ethnicities deserve to look at themselves in the mirror and say, “I love me, I love me in the most natural way possible.” The afro has not only provided African-American women all the more reason to proclaim this statement, but it has also given them the chance to address the fact that black hair is beautiful. So, no matter what hairstyle you rock, know that it is beautiful, but also be on the lookout for these outstanding women who are making a statement to society one strand at a time.
Erin Stone encourages you to be yourself, and to love yourself.