Happy International Women's Day

Happy International Women's Day

Happy International Women's Day!

In every corner of the world, women have carved paths, shattered ceilings, and pioneered change. From trailblazing leaders to groundbreaking scientists, women have left an indelible mark on history. Yet, amidst these triumphs, there's an often-overlooked journey that speaks volumes about resilience, identity, and empowerment—the journey of embracing our black hair. As we celebrate International Women's Day, let's not only honour the achievements of women but also recognise the significance of our unique hair journeys in shaping who we are.

Undoubtedly, throughout history, our black hair has been a tapestry of resilience, identity, and defiance- as such, here at TTAT, we believe that this journey is due celebration. Let's recall some history about our hair, shall we?

In pre-colonial times, our hair was not merely a physical feature but a vibrant expression of cultural heritage and social bonds. Beautiful braids, adorned with jewels and fabrics, conveyed messages of status, age, and tribal affiliation. Haircare rituals were communal activities, fostering connections within communities and passing down traditions from one generation to the next. And for a passing moment, our hair was a source of pride and celebration, a testament to our rich cultural legacy.  

Then came colonialism, enslaved women would braid each other’s hair, integrating intricate patterns and designs, which gave precedence to their heritage as well as served as a way to relay messages and escape routes for those seeking freedom. Some of us may be wondering, why couldn't they just communicate the message, well, black historians retell that by that time, a lot of the slave-owners understood their language and thus, this was the best way to not get caught. In the braids, they also stored treasures such as gold and hid seeds which, in the long run, helped them survive after they escaped. 

From Pride to Shame

Sadly, the colonial era brought with it a distorted view of black hair. European colonisers imposed their standards of beauty, equating natural black hair with inferiority and otherness. Afro-textured hair was dehumanised and used as validation for exploitation. Tharp, in the book, ‘Hair Story: Untangling the Roots of Black Hair in America,’ writes that this unfortunate set of circumstances resulted in the paradigm shift from loving and carefully tending to our hair, to covering it up, and stretching it with chemicals and hot combs in an attempt to emulate European styles.

However, amidst these oppressive standards, there emerged a beacon of hope in the form of Madam C.J. Walker and her revolutionary approach to hair care. Walker's rise to prominence marked a pivotal moment in the history of black hair, challenging the harmful practices perpetuated by European ideals. In her pursuit of empowerment and liberation, she introduced the Walker system, a groundbreaking method that prioritised the health and well-being of Black women. Through her personalised approach and dedication to her community, Walker transformed the beauty industry.

Resistance and Reclamation

The aftermath of colonisation witnessed the internalisation of negative perceptions about natural black hair. Colourism and texturism perpetuated the notion that straighter hair was superior, leading to the proliferation of industries dedicated to altering black hair to mimic Eurocentric straightened hair patterns.  Yet, amidst this cultural erasure, the 1960s emerged as a pivotal moment of resistance and reclamation. The Black Power movement declared "Black is beautiful," reclaiming natural black hair as a symbol of pride and empowerment. The Afro became a political statement, challenging societal norms and reclaiming our narrative. Similarly, Rastafarianism embraced natural locks as a spiritual and cultural expression, further cementing the significance of our hair in our journey of self-discovery and empowerment.


While our story began with sheer distress and restraints, our black hair speaks volumes about our unique experience and identity. Today’s celebration isn't just that of honouring curls and coils; it's a testament to the evolution of the natural hair journey from a history of shame and attempts to conform to Eurocentric standards to a declaration of acceptance and consequently pride in our afros and dreadlocks. Let's remember pioneering women like Angela Davis, who contributed to the civil rights movement by proudly wearing her afro as a political statement — defying Eurocentric beauty standards and paving the way for future generations to embrace their natural beauty.

In recent times, traditional African hair braiding styles have experienced a resurgence, representing a profound reconnection with cultural roots and heritage. Among these styles are Bantu Knots, Fulani braids, and other protective hairstyles, which have regained popularity not just as fashion choices, but as symbols of cultural pride and strength. This is in some measure thanks to the individuals and entities shaping our present-day hair narrative such as hair enthusiasts, salons, and hair care brands that play a vital role in fostering a sense of pride and appreciation for our natural hair.

Although significant strides have been made in embracing our black hair, there is still much work to be done. Stereotypes persist, with some professions deeming hairstyles like afros, braids, and dreadlocks as unprofessional. More than 50% of black students still experience insults or uncomfortable questions about their hair at school as such, it is imperative that we actively challenge these outdated norms and stereotypes. Embracing our black hair is not just about personal acceptance; it's about advocating for systemic change and creating a more inclusive society where all hair types and authenticity are celebrated and accepted. This International Women's Day, let's stand united in our journey of self-discovery and empowerment, embracing the process of embracing our black hair, challenging societal standards, and practising self-love.