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What is an Afro?

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  • Written By: Tricia Ellis-Christensen
  • Edited By: O. Wallace
  • Last Modified Date: 05 August 2014
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An Afro is a hairstyle that is often most easy to achieve in people of African descent. It is a natural way of wearing the hair that allows for short tight curls to surround the head like a cloud of hair. An Afro can be relatively small or very large depending upon the length of the hair. The look was a reactionary response in the 1960s and 1970s for black women and men rejecting the need to look “white” and apply hair straightener to achieve Caucasian-like hair.

Anyone who has tightly curled hair will better be able to achieve an Afro better than a person with straight hair. Some people can achieve enough curl with a permanent to achieve the style.

After the hair is tightly braided, it is fluffed out using a special wide-toothed comb or pick. This eliminates some of the curl, causing the hair to stand nearly straight out from the head. Overall the effect means the hair is fluffed out all over. Some have compared the Afro look to a natural helmet, since there seems to be little space between each hair.

As the hair gets longer, it needs to be very curly to achieve the look. A few people have sported notably huge Afros by growing their hair quite long. Jimi Hendrix, deceased guitarist, was known for this look. Diana Ross also had an impressive Afro during the 1970s.

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The Afro became even more popular with the advent of disco. Like any other fashion style, the look grew larger due to the demands of fashion. Then it became lampooned, with comedians wearing extremely large ones. Jokes about fitting through doorways and getting into cars while sporting an Afro abounded.

In the main, these jokes were not a fling at blacks or meant to be racially motivated. In fact many of the comedians making fun of the style have been black. In 2005, fashion returned to the 1970s for inspiration in clothing and hairstyles, and people once again sported somewhat modest Afros. As well, the Farrah Fawcett hairstyle revisited the fashion world, and bell-bottom jeans were once again “in.”

Though most people no longer wear the Afro, even after recent fashion trends, it is sure to return again from time to time as fashion recreates the “look” of various eras.

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Discuss this Article

anon81286
Post 4

I am a white student and I have an afro. You need to have really tight curls in your hair or you will have next to no chance of getting a 'fro. Basically, if your hair is naturally curly, you could get an afro.

anon67894
Post 3

i'm also white, and i really want an afro. can someone please help me on how to get one?

anon6898
Post 2

great definition and how to create an afro. Good Stuff!

anon6569
Post 1

How did white people get afro's in the 60's-70's?

I wanna have a small afro how can i get it?

I heard they used to use beer or alcohol to make there hair ruff and curly.

plz plz help me get an afro!!!!

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