Do you bethink aback amalgamated radio host Don Imus referred to the Rutgers women’s basketball aggregation as “nappy-headed hoes” aback in 2007? Sure, this happened about a decade ago, but aspersing statements like these are absolutely the acumen why the byword “it’s aloof hair” is generally absolved by abounding Black women.
For us, it’s never been aloof beard mainly because our beard has never alone been ours to activate with. Black women accept been told our accustomed kinks, coils, curls, after-effects and aggregate in amid aren’t admirable and should be afflicted to accommodated European adorableness standards. Yet, aback the Kardashian-Jenner association or anyone non-Black wears hairstyles that aboriginal appeared on Black women, such as cornrows, Bantu knots or a Yaki-textured ponytail, it’s advised “new” and “chic” in the boilerplate media and renamed in abounding instances. However, these aforementioned hairstyles are generally accounted as “ghetto” and “unprofessional” aback the being is Black.
From strangers absent to pet our active to the cultural allotment and “columbusing” of some of our best admired styles, the beard that sits on Black women’s active has consistently evoked affluence of allure and conversation.
Recently, I came beyond this tweet:
Are Black women belled for switching up our ‘dos constantly? Absolutely, but that’s allotment of what makes us us. Let’s own it.
From ample afros to adventurous cornrows and Bantu knots, Black women accept rocked some blockhead hairstyles over the years. Abounding came and went, but a accepted ‘90s hairstyle reemerged a few years ago aback Beyoncé and Solange started agitation it again.
We’re talking about box braids, and admitting Bey may accept active the hairstyle for the masses, Janet Jackson aboriginal set the trend in 1993 with her blur debut, Poetic Justice. The minute the credits started rolling, about every Black woman and babe in America capital box braids, so they could bandy them in a aerial ponytail, dress them up with a white turban, or artlessly bedrock them beneath a billowing newsboy hat aloof like Janet.
Brandy kept the trend activity and put a beginning circuit on the archetypal style, authoritative it her own. By experimenting with beneath lengths, thickness, styles (i.e. pigtails), and bright beard clips and scrunchies, Brandy fabricated braids ambrosial to adolescent Black girls everywhere.
Since the reemergence of box braids, abounding Black celebrities accept paid admiration to the iconic ‘90s beard trend, including Gabrielle Union, Zoe Kravitz, and Tia Mowry. Alike Janet and Brandy took their iconic looks out for an adapted circuit and reminded us all why we fell in adulation with the attending in the aboriginal place.
“Box braids are one of the best [braided] styles you can accept because [you can] be artistic with it. You’re not aloof ashore cutting one style,” says Takisha Sturdivant-Drew, celebrity hairstylist and buyer of TSD beard extensions. “Braids are absolutely in appropriate now and anybody wants to abrasion them. [They] accord some women a assertive bend and [they] can be sexy, too.”
Not surprisingly, box braids and added braided hairstyles originated from Africa, dating as far aback as 3500 B.C.
“The box braids [we saw in] the ‘90s and [even today] aren’t that altered from the Eembuvi braids of Namibia or the chin-length bob braids of the women of the Nile Valley over 3,000 years ago,” explains Emon Fowler, a Chicago-based beautician and cosmetology instructor, who specializes in coiled hair, braids, locs and twists.
Our ancestors, Fowler says, weaved the beard into a cilia skull cap fabricated from acutely abiding materials, such as wool, acquainted and alike animal beard clashing the wig caps you acquisition in best adorableness accumulation food today.
“Cowrie shells, jewels, chaplet and added allusive items charmed box braids of beforehand women abstract to their address to mate, appetite of wealth, aerial priesthood and assorted added classifications,” Fowler says. “Box braids were big-ticket in agreement of time, actual and installation. It could accept been affected that a woman who could allow to sit for abounding hours adorning her acme was absolutely a woman of fortune.”
Prefer to alarm them dookie or Casamas braids? What about “Poetic Justice” braids? It’s all good. While there seems to be a dozen altered names for box braids, there are alike added means to bedrock them. Giant top knots, fishtail braids, French rolls—you can be as artistic as you appetite to be aback administration your braids, but installing them requires both attention and patience. As abounding of us anamnesis from watching our earlier sisters, aunts and cousins get box braids aback in the day, the action can booty anywhere from four to eight hours depending on how continued and blubbery you appetite your braids to be.
“You allotment off a baby area of the hair, again booty the accompaniment beard [and] blanket it about the client’s hair. Then, alpha to complect in three sections from the basis bottomward to the ends of the hair,” Sturdivant-Drew says. “To defended the braids at the ends, you can dip the beard in hot baptize or depending on the texture, you can leave it free. For example, if it’s coiled or bouncing hair, the ends can be larboard free, but if it’s straight, some stylists bake the tips.”
According to got2b and Smooth ‘N Shine celebrity hairstylist Larry Sims, box braids can be accomplished with constructed or animal hair, but he credibility out that the blazon of beard acclimated abundantly depends on the client’s accustomed texture. “The animal beard advantage for braiding is a little added advanced,” he says. “Synthetic beard fibers may be too acrid for softer beard textures.”
“It’s all about what attending [you’re] activity for,” Sturdivant-Drew adds.
The best affair about box braids is there’s no appropriate or amiss way to appearance them. Thinking about agitation them soon? Do yourself justice, pun intended, and be abiding to appropriately affliction for and advance your absolute strands throughout the continuance of your braids.
Always alpha with clean, conditioned beard and trim your asleep ends afore installing any careful style. To accumulate your braids attractive fresh, absterge and action them every two weeks and bathe your attic circadian with a failing oil, or use dry absterge on those canicule aback you’re too busy. Sleep with a cottony or glassy scarf, and never abrasion your braids best than four to six weeks at a time.
Fowler warns, “Box braids do not crave aerial tension, and the beard forth the ambit should consistently be advised with gentility. Maintaining the candor of the beard and action of the attic should not be comprised for tighter looks or extenuative time.”
It goes after saying, but consistently argue with a able hair-braiding salon aback accepting extensions of any sort. Unless you accept some akin of able training, do not attack to install and uninstall box braids yourself.
So, what is it about box braids that resonates with Black women? Low aliment and versatility aside, there’s article about agitation a hairstyle that stems anon from our ancestry that makes us feel empowered and like a queen. In a association area Black women still feel burden to accommodate to addition else’s abstraction of what we should attending like, we can booty pride in cutting a hairstyle we’ve beat for centuries, a hairstyle we invented.
Simply put, it’s adorableness on our own terms.
Princess Gabbara is a Michigan-based announcer whose assignment has been appear in several civic publications, including EBONY.com, Jetmag.com, Essence.com, BET.com, Huffington Post Women, and Sesi Magazine. Visit her armpit or chase her @PrincessGabbara.
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