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Black Hair in the Seventies: the Afro

March 16, 2014

The Black Power movement may have lost some of its momentum coming into the seventies, but the Afro was still worn as a fashion statement and even worn by pop culture figures such as The Jackson 5, Diana Ross, and some White individuals.  Even the armed forces modified their hats to accommodate thick Afro-textured hair.  It didn’t last long, however, and soon became just another Fading Style (fad).

Pop Culture Dons the Afro

famous afros

Pam Grier popularized the Afro when she pulled out a gun from her Afro in the film Foxy Brown.

Foxy Brown
With films such as ShaftSuperfly, and Cleopatra Jones, White viewers became less afraid of Afros, but also began to see Afros again as buffoonery based on the drugs and violence seen in such films.

Blacksploitation Movies of the Seventies

Black Shampoo

I just can’t!

While using an Afro-pick comb was the only tool necessary to have an ideal Afro in the last decade, blowout kits and mild relaxers began being used to slightly straighten the hair for a more “perfected” Afro.

afro pick
Essence magazine emerged and initially marketed mostly Afros, but soon began marketing a variety of styles including natural styles, straight styles, weaves, and wigs.

Magazine Cover AfrosStraighter is Better Makes a Comeback

The job market demanded a more traditional and straighter look than the Afro, so many people, men and women, cut and straightened their hair to meet that demand and get jobs.  When the Afro faded in popularity, even those who had been a part of the Black Power movement had not fully internalized the ideals, and went back to old hair-straightening habits and popular culture mentalities.

Next up: That Eighties Hair

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