African American Men Hairstyles BiographySource:- Google.com.pk
African American hair, and African American hairstyles are the diverse ways that African American men and women style their hair. Because many black people have hair that is thick with tighter and smaller curls than people of other races, unique hair styles have developed. In addition to this, many black hairstyles have historical connections to African cultures.Since hair is a distinguishing feature of African origins, western beauty ideals characterized black hair, especially the hair of black women, as un-attractive. The Black is Beautiful movement played an important role in reversing these ideas in black communities.Since the beginning of African civilizations, hairstyles have been used to convey messages to greater society. As early as the 15th century, different styles could "indicate a person's marital status, age, religion, ethnic identity, wealth and rank within the community." Unkempt hair in nearly every West African culture was considered unattractive to the opposite sex and a sign that one was dirty, had bad morals or was even insane.Hair maintenance in traditional Africa was aimed at creating a sense of beauty. "A woman with long thick hair demonstrated the life force, the multiplying power of profusion, prosperity...a green thumb for raising bountiful farms and many healthy children", wrote Sylvia Ardyn Boone, an anthropologist specializing in the Mende culture of Sierra Leone.In Yoruba culture in West Africa, people braided their hair to send messages to the gods. The hair is the most elevated part of the body and was therefore considered a portal for spirits to pass through to the soul. Because of the cultural and spiritual importance of hair for Africans, the practice of having their heads involuntarily shaved before being sold as slaves was in itself a dehumanizing act. "The shaved head was the first step the Europeans took to erase the slaves’ culture and alter the relationship between the African and his or her hair." Hair straighteners marketed by white companies suggest to blacks that only through changing physical features will persons of African descent be afforded class mobility within African American communities and social acceptance by the dominant culture” (Rooks 1998: 177). At the time, wig manufacturers were the only companies that advertised an African American standard of beauty.In Winold Reiss’s Brown Madonna, the Virgin Mother is shown with straight hair. Painted toward the beginning of the New Negro movement in 1925, the work showcased the sense of racial pride popular during the 1920s and 1930s. This classically white symbol of purity and virtue was created with dark skin, asserting the value and respectability of the Black race.This was a time when Blacks were creating their own successes in society and staking out a niche in the northern cities such as Chicago and Harlem. Part of their personal success at this time, however, was their perceived ability to assimilate, which is portrayed by mother’s unnaturally straight hair. Painted lines seem to radiate from the mother’s body, giving her an ethereal and heavenly affect. This type of figure—one with straight hair—was revered by Blacks and posed as an example to follow.
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