Afros have played such a vital role in the wide scope of traditional hairstyles for many decades. Whether it was Angela Davis’ massive poof in the 60s or the iconic curls of The Jackson 5, afros and afro culture has been around for a long time.
Despite their celebrated appearances in pop culture, however, the afro has seen adversity. Especially within the black community itself and among black women, the long described as , “nappy”, and “unruly” hair has earned a rather negative label.
The idea that natural black, Afro-centric hair styles are something to be criticized stems over generations, (ever since people of African descent were brought over to the Americas). Straight, lengthy hair, (most commonly seen among those of Caucasian descent), is widely publicized in the media as “professional” and “attractive”, opposed to the afro which has been seen as “unprofessional,” and “unkempt.”
A quick trip to Google’s search engine shows the difference in pigment and curl if searching up, “Professional hairstyles,” versus, “Unprofessional hairstyles,” and in the late 1960s and 70s the afro was at times used for comedic effects in acts and shows, opposed to being shown for their true, cultural worth.
The most recent example of the existing stigmatism towards natural black hair was the incident in which a group of high school students were threatened with suspension for wearing their natural hair. The controversy took place in February of 2016 at C.R. Walker Senior High School when principal T. Nicola Mckay threatened to suspend the girl’s due to their natural hair being, “untidy, ungroomed, and unkempt.”
Through it, an online petition has surfaced, stating that, “Black women through the course of history have been told that their hair is unworthy and were made to chemically straighten, hot comb or cover their kinky crowns. In order to be seen as beautiful, many women of African descent were told unapologetically that their hair was not beautiful in any other form.”
#SupportthePuff is a new tag that’s surfaced over social media - most commonly through Facebook. The hashtag originates from the idea that natural African American hair shall no longer be seen for the harsh stigmatisms towards them. It’s geared towards celebrating poofy, kinky black hair and lifting up a community too long silenced and forced to comply.
“My honest perspective on afros most definitely would be like art for the head. Its essence is beautiful ya’ know?”, said 11th grade, Nayeli Hernandez. Support like this from peers, family, and media has widely grown from the Afros day back in the 90s, and because of it, the style is making it’s way into pop culture.
So for the men and women of African descent who are told that their natural poofs are something to hate, love yourselves and #SupportthePuff!