It is almost an incontestable fact that African Americans are among the most artistically inclined societies in the world; and it is therefore no wonder that their there is such a great variety of African American hairstyles – seeing that a ‘hairstyle’ is first and foremost a work of art. Another possible explanation as to why there are so many African-American hairstyles has to be the fact that there are so many ‘sub-cultures’ within the African American society, with almost each of these sub-cultures having a unique hairstyle for identification purposes among its members, and typically with each sub-cultures hairstyle being one of the features that add up to the member’s ‘sense of belonging’ in the group.
While going into naming and describing each of the numerous African-American hairstyles would be a huge task enough to make a several thousand page thesis, a number of things can be said in general about the African American hairstyles.
One is that, as would be expected, there seems to be a greater variety of such African-American hairstyles for women that there are for men – though the African-American men are not altogether bereft of ‘outstanding’ hairstyles. One of the most remarkable of these African American hairstyles of men (which by and large remained an African American hairstyle because other hair types could simply not accommodate it) is the so-called ‘Afro’ hairstyle that rocked most of the 70s and 80s: where the hair was let to grow tall and thick (but not long enough to fall over), then combed thoroughly and (vertically) straight to come up with a very outstanding look on the part of the wearer that worked wonders; especially when worn with the ‘belly bottom’ trousers of that age when the ‘Afro’ ruled African American hairstyle circles. And since hairstyle fashion trends go in cycles, it is not surprising that the ‘Afro’ is increasingly making a comeback though to be sure, nowadays, it is the ultra-stylishly minded individual who doesn’t mind being labeled ‘eccentric’ who is likely to be seen wearing an ‘Afro’ today.
Among the women in the African-American society, braids (and the whole range of braided hairstyles) are extremely popular – with some of these even finding acceptance among men who ‘are in touch with their feminine side.’ The black hair is, of course, easily workable into braids – which is why the braided look has found little usage outside the African American society in the USA.
Closely related to the braids are the African-American hairstyles based on weaves – since the strength of the African American hair makes it possible to weave it into various shapes. Unlike the braids, though, the weaves mainly remain popular among the women, with only the occasional man who is not afraid to ‘stand out’ sporting one or another variety of the weave.
Dreadlocks (and associated hairstyles) are another popular variety of African American hairstyles, especially among the subscribers of the Rastafarian faith ands its sympathizers; who were for quite a good number of years almost in a majority in the African American society, before the hip-hop revolution of recent years which has seen the numbers even out between those who are sympathetic to the Rastafarian cause and those who prefer the much more easy-going approach to life epitomized by the hip hop subculture.