African-American Hair

Hair Textures & Patterns: What To Know About African-American Hair

Hair is not who you are, but merely a part of you. It can be an accessory or a pawn for self-expression.


'Long hair, short hair, thick hair, thin hair. In the African-American community, hair is a factor that has represented this ethnicity throughout society. Hair is not who you are, but merely a part of you. It can be an accessory or a pawn for self-expression. There is so much about African-American hair that many people do not know. There's different texture patterns and different meanings for those patterns. Let's jump right into African-American hair 101.

Growing up in America, I heard the term "nappy". This term was used to translate that an African-American woman with coarse hair had "nappy" hair. That is not true and it is a myth. There is a texture spectrum, ranging from fine hair, being fine-grained, to coarser hair, being more brittle. Depending on your hair, you either fall on or between this spectrum.

I am an African-American woman and learning about my hair and others of my ethnicity is beneficial because it helps me understand who I am.

Beyond the fine to coarse hair spectrum lies the hair type. Hair comes in all shapes and sizes, which is a factor that makes someone unique. There are four hair types: 1, 2, 3, 4 and each hair type has a subdivision: a, b, c. If you have straighter hair, you are classified as 1a. If you have very tight coils, you are classified as 4c. Starting from 1b the begins to contract from straighter hair to a wave, then a curl and then a coil. Hair types are dependent solely on genetics.

In America, the most desired look from 2000-2010 was straight hair. Having straight hair was the trend back then. For African-American women who have tighter curl patterns with coarser hair, straightening the hair is more difficult. Many women would result to relaxers. A relaxer is a treatment that alters the texture of the hair. By obtaining a relaxer, you will have straight hair for about three to six weeks. The term "perm" has been coiled throughout history, but that is not the correct representation for the relaxer. A relaxer is simply a relaxer.

There has been a lot of views and comments about African-American women and their hair. In the African-American community, hair can be related to clothes. Yes, clothes. Clothes represent your style and you can express who you are through clothing. For African-American women, styling their hair is a way of self-expression. Having the ability to change your hair depending on your mood or identity is absolutely amazing because that shows positive self-expression. There are many hairstyles varying from box braids to colorful wigs.

African-Americans have various hair types and patterns, which is the beauty of their ethnicity. Stereotypes of African-American hair is interesting, being that it is as simple as a myth. Coarse hair does not mean you have "nappy" hair. Hair is hair, no matter how you style it. It does not make you, you. It is simply an accessory to help a person to show who they are, who they want to be, and how they want you to view them.

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This article has not been reviewed by Odyssey HQ and solely reflects the ideas and opinions of the creator.
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