Nappy, kinky, or curly; they are all descriptions of Black hair. Natural Black or African hair can range from a soft, ‘S’ shaped curl pattern to tightly curled hair and even to the tight, ‘Z’ shape cross-section of a kinky afro. Originating in Africa, kinky hair evolved for the dry heat by pushing away heat and moisture from the scalp. The relatively sparse density of Afro textured hair in combination with its spring-like coils results in a light, airy, almost sponge-like form. Jablonski states in her writing that it likely facilitates an increase in the circulation of cool air onto the scalp. This hair type should be appreciated as a biological advantage and not considered “bad hair”. A strong majority of Black people believe their natural hair is considered unprofessional or unattractive. The negative connotations of natural Black hair seem to be ingrained in our minds from a young age. With this, I believe that Black people do not wear their hair naturally because they have been taught for centuries to assimilate into White society.
Generations of Black people, specifically women, in America have dealt with the social struggle of meeting the ideal beauty standard in this country when it comes to their hair. The battle between not being White, but trying to look as though they fit in socially with the Eurocentric beauty standards of this country has impacted the hairstyle of Black people for decades. To understand the social struggles of Black Americas, one must look at the history of hair during the times of slavery. To look similar to the White people, African Americans developed a hierarchy imposed on themselves where those with lighter skin and straighter hair over those that reflected more African features were regarded as more attractive and appealing (Donaldson, 2018). This idea was internalized by African Americans and thus considered the beginning of the idea of “good hair” and colorism among Black people as slave owners would compare Black hair “wool” and considered it inappropriate (Bryrd and Tharps, 2001, p. 26). To softer kinky hair texture, butter, bacon grease, and even kerosene were used in their hair (Vissa Studios, 2012). As damaging as this could be to the skin and hair, they were willing to do it to meet the expectations of the time.