Tuesday, 8 February 2011

Madame CJ Walker

The history of black hair and hairstyling of course began in Africa. Before the slave trade began, many African cultures wore notably elaborate hairstyles. This is where twists, braids, and intricately parted styles began. From the minute black people were brought to America, many of these traditions began to die as these proud people -now slaves -were deliberately separated from each other. Because their indigenous styling techniques and products were now out of reach to them, they were forced to use their ingenuity. That involved taming afro-textured hair with animal fat, kerosene, lard, butter - whatever.

In the 1900's, Madame C.J Walker revolutionized the hair straightening market with her "Wonderful Hair Grower." We have come a long way, baby.
You can directly see the influence of our ancestors in our cultural beliefs about hair, and in the various ways we care for our hair today.
Madame C.J Walker can be seen to be an influence for today's entrepreneurs -- Lisa Price of Carol's Daughter, Karen Tappin of Karen's Body Beautiful, Miko and Titi Branch of Miss Jessie's, Mahisha Dellinger of Curls, Shelley Davis of Kinky Curly and Anthony Dickey of Hair Rules come most immediately to mind, but there are so many more men and women of color who have realized the power of the hair products they've whipped up in their kitchens at home. Today black hair is a billion dollar industry, and we've come full circle when it comes to hairstyling. Now there is recognition that we have a choice in how we wear our hair -- whereas in the past so many women and men of color saw straight hair by any means necessary as the only way to get ahead, now it's recognized that you can wear your hair in any style you wish and find success.
What lies in the future for black hair? It is up to us. And only time will tell.

For me, it is the wearing of my hair naturall, braidied. Growing up, mummie would braid our hair during the week,  press it straight for church. In the 60's we went natural, though I didn't handle my new short do well. Mummie warned me once my long hair was cut, it couldn't be glued back.
I didn't listen.
In the 70's I learned how to cornroll my hair and have pretty much kept it in braids, straighting my hair from time.
And Mark like the braids.

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