Aug 27, 2021 1:20 PMPhoto Essays
One of the best ways to express ourselves is through our hair and how we style it. For many Black women, including me, our hair is also tied to our identity. Why exactly is that?
Our hair is a sign of heritage and resilience. The ability to style our hair and wear it proudly is a right that Black women had to fight to gain for hundreds of years. Until last year, many workplaces and schools could dictate how Black women could style their hair and what was deemed an “appropriate” hairstyle. This form of discrimination can be seen back to when to the enslavement of Black people.
The Tignon law, which was created in 1786, did not permit enslaved Black women to show their hair in public in Louisiana. They had to cover it with a tignon scarf. In some places, Black women were even forced to shave their heads. These laws were put in place to make sure that Black women could not be viewed as feminine or “attractive.” Even so, Black women persevered and, instead of being controlled by these laws, embedded it within their style.
Today many Black women, through their hair, express themselves. Through their hair, they can share their rich history, care for each other, and be empowered.
Now, at an age where I understand the importance of history and the different styles that I grew up wearing, I feel more pride than ever for my community. Being part of such a complex and caring community has not only shaped how I view the world but also how I present myself. It makes me want to present a version of myself that contains the story of my culture and its rich history.
Just like the many women before me, I hope to continue sharing our story through my hair and one day, hopefully, be able to inspire a young Black girl to see the beauty within her hair, just like I have.