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"Exploring the Roots: Uncovering the Cultural History of Expression Services in the Beauty Industry"

BIPOC communities have a long history of caring for each other, with communal care dating back to pre-colonial times. However, the oppressors ultimately failed, as beauty salons have become a community pillar for BIPOC communities worldwide. We have created many hairstyles for expression, rebellion, and practical needs, and these styles continue to be an essential part of our culture today.

1920s Black culture was doing the opposite of oppression as an act of self care.
Josephine Baker, Heavy on the swoop: the origin of swoops and baby hair

The act of getting your hair done is a ritual in itself. I have noticed that this practice connects to Maslow's hierarchy of needs (Simply Psychology) in many ways. The salon is where the most intimate conversations happen, and the door to beauty regimes is opened. We share our practices, shampoo our hair, and have an experience that fills our cups with love and care. Unfortunately, these were the very practices as plantation owners sought to strip us of our roots.

Colonization caused many of us not to embrace our natural appearance. During enslavement, African people were taught to hate our skin and hair (Textures, 15). That is a trauma that has been embedded in us for generations. Due to epigenetics (Psychology Today, 2019), we still participate in this rhetoric today.

During Women’s Appreciation Month, I started to dive into this melting pot called America and learn about more BIPOC communities by Exploring Roots and Cultural History.

Black people have always been trendsetters from the diaspora and running for freedom. Braids were a way to keep rice and seeds from being detected by slave masters. The Harlem Renaissance was an art movement, from zoot suits, furs, the conk, and other sculpted works of art atop our heads (Brown, Essence ). Today, black beauty trends are still crafted in the salons from street style inspiration. 

Like the Jim Crow era to the civil rights movement and now with BLM, Braids, and Afros have returned, and Mexican American Chicano styles from female Pachucos and modern Chola culture have been often imitated. The Chicano movements were about social and political awareness and change (Youtube). As with most BIPOC movements, there is a way we present ourselves to the world, as an act of rebellion but also in solidarity.

Today, through our social media platforms, we share our cultures subconsciously. Though showing our get ready with me videos and sharing stories of our inspiration. We have become so fascinated with each other's cultures that we lose sight of ourselves. 

Our look has always been about culture, from the kitchen to the beauty and blowout salon. We can always find ourselves when we reconnect to our roots. Just as many of the issues of decades ago still exist today, we are allowed to revive the looks of our ancestors and make them live today. Sankofa is a West African Adinkra symbol meaning “to know where you’re going, you have to know where you’ve come from.”(Adinkra)

Check out this playlist of 100 years of beauty in over 20 groups of women and men. I found these fascinating as each decade tells a historical story.

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