Why is natural hair growing in Hollywood and beyond? A look at the statement-making style – USA TODAY
Natural hairstyles became a symbol of political resistance back in the 60s and 70s, but their practicality quickly gave way to fashion trends of the times. Now, natural hairstyles are a firm staple in communities of color.
Jarrad Henderson, USA TODAY
Black women in Hollywood are glowing — and their natural hair is growing.
Natural hair, which refers to hair that’s natural in texture and has not been altered by chemical straighteners or relaxers, can be seen to and ‘fro this season. From TV to red carpets and the runways, coiled crops and curly locks are everywhere.
Viola Davis, Tracee Ellis Ross, Gabrielle Union, Lena Waithe and This Is Us star Susan Kelechi Watson were just a few stars rocking the look at the Emmy Awards in September.
Zendaya turned heads with a fierce ‘fro while accepting the Style Star award at the InStyle Awards on Oct. 23, while Yara Shahidi’s curls took center stage on the cover of Seventeen’s November/December issue.
But the movement includes non-celebrities, too.
Whitney Green, a stylist at Warren Tricomi Salon specializing in curly hair, told USA TODAY that only three of her clients are still on relaxers, totaling about 5% of her clientele.
Fellow Warren Tricomi Salon stylist Amanda Ambroise has also seen the trend reflected in her work, with only one of her ten African-American clients getting relaxers.
But why the embrace now?
Felicia Leatherwood, natural hair celebrity stylist and mastermind behind Insecure star Issa Rae‘s hairstyles, explains that interest in natural hair has been around for years, starting 10-plus years ago when NFL and NBA stars started wearing cornrows.
“Women saw it, and they would come in to the salon I worked at and asked for them,” she says, but credits social media and YouTube for helping the style take off in the past few years.
Ambroise and Green agree.
“A lot of women have seen other women deciding to go natural,” Ambroise says. “Once social media took part in it, I feel like it went viral and a lot of other women wanted to change.”
But why make the change? Leatherwood cites improving hair health as a common reason women go natural.
“Most of the women that come to me, they go natural because of hair loss,” she says.
Ambroise agrees, noting that her clients see the benefits of “having their hair uncompromised by relaxers and other chemical products.”
Celebrity stylist Cynthia Alvarez also sees an empowering notion behind natural hair.
“European features such as long silky hair has been the status quo for as long as we go back in history. African American beauty, especially natural hair, has been devalued in this country,” she explained. “The natural movement is resisting the notion that only straight hair is beautiful and professional.”
Naté Bova, a senior stylist at Warren Tricomi Salon’s Plaza Hotel location, agrees that the style is connected to empowerment and pride.
“With all of the racially charged things that are happening in politics right now, there is definitely a stronger sense of pride with African Americans,” she said. “And we want to show what we naturally have.”
But will the growing trend be cut short? Green doesn’t think so.
“It’s getting bigger every year,” she said. “It’s huge.”
“It’s a growing trend,” Ambroise agreed. “I don’t think it’s going anywhere.”