Hairstyles come and go but braids have always been there since ancient times and are still going to be here for many more years to come. Braided hairstyles have evolved over the years, from being a symbol of power to become the favourite cool girl hairstyle, with its roots in rich African history.
From classic cornrows and chic twists to simple three-strand braids, the symbolic style of braids was once used as a sign of societal status, ethnicity and religion. However, they have now become a staple hairstyle that many of us use as not only a celebration but as an expression of who we are.
Importantly, as women of colour with kinky textured hair, we wear braids as a form of protective styling for our natural hair and not necessarily because we follow trends. We make it admirable because of how creative with the styles, length, as well as the colour which we use when braiding our hair.
The Cultural Context of Braids
In the past braided hairstyles carried messages of hope and freedom where people would style their hair to send out messages to each other or to hide possessions like seeds or gold.
Box braids in the old days were seen as expensive because of the amount of time and resources it took to create the hairstyle. It was assumed that a woman who could sit for hours doing her hair was someone who came from fortune and wealth. Hair accessories like shells, beads and jewels were used to classify women in society, so the more glorious charms you had in your hair, the higher up you were in the rankings.
Even today braids still hold a significant meaning about who we are as individuals; we wear them as an art to celebrate the glory of our crowns.
Braids In The 21st Century
Today beaded braids, box braids, cornrows and twists are still very much popular and continue to be adored amongst black women. We live in a society which has made us believe that our hair isn’t attractive or admirable, however, we are definitely unlearning all of that and showing the world how artistic our strands can be.
It is refreshing seeing more and more black women rocking such fabulous hairstyles for themselves. Even so, we have seen progress in the uplifting of the natural hair world. There are now more products that cater to the maintenance of rocking braids and for styling them. As black women, we can take pride in the hairstyles that we invented and that continue to evolve because no one does hair the way we do.
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