As we celebrate Martin Luther King Jr. Day, it's important to remember how representation makes a more equal society. Representation in the fashion industry – where Black hair care is often left out or stigmatized – is a biggie.
For us Black folks, haircare is in our culture. We’re more than our hair, but you’ve got to admit…it’s a big part of our identity. Our passion for hair is part of our history. Our roots. Black hair has faced policing and discrimination throughout history, and still does today.
So while the world puts White beauty on a pedestal, let’s keep reclaiming our tightly coiled crowns.
The fashion industry needs Black people
Black hair comes in all forms, textures, and lengths. From gravity-defying fros to waist-creeping braids. We’re natural movers in the fashion world. Loud and proud. Including Black hair in fashion serves more than looks. It flaunts our excellence while teaching the uninitiated. A lot of people are ignorant to other experiences and perspectives until it’s in their face.
Exposure breaks down stereotypes and demystifies those awkward conversations (how many times do we have to tell strangers to keep their dang hands out of our hair?).
The fashion industry is known for excluding Black hair and its care. From the lack of diverse hair care products in stores – our products were made harder to buy during the pandemic – to the lack of Black hair stylists behind the scenes at fashion events. The industry drops the ball when representing and catering to Black folks and our hair. A lot. But things are changing.
Signs of progress
There’s now a push for protective, wholesome hair care. Not just for ingredients, but also in the fabrics we use. In an industry hooked on cotton, satin-lined products are a big tell that a business supports Black hair. More businesses are prioritising Black needs – making us the focus of the conversation for a change.
Brands like KIN Apparel.
With more efforts to include Black hair care in the fashion industry, things are moving in the right direction. How?
- Creating more diverse hair care products
- Bringing in Black stylists and MUAS (curbing cringe makeup and skin tone fumbles)
- Including Black models with natural hairstyles, both in fashion campaigns and on the runway.
Our differences are finally being celebrated, not alienated. The recent CROWN Act – Create a Respectful and Open World for Natural Hair – is a real-world example, banning discrimination based on hairstyles linked with a particular race. It’s been passed in several states, creating a more inclusive environment for Black people and our hair.
Paying our respects to Martin Luther King
Martin Luther King Jr. and the Civil Right Movement gave us Black folks the freedom to dream. To aspire and achieve success. His leadership and the sacrifices of many truly paved the way in the fight against discrimination. Creating opportunities for us. Today, we honor his legacy – letting us be great.
As we remember Martin Luther King Jr., let's give props to the importance of representation and push for a more inclusive society. One where we’re not judged by the color of our skin, or texture of our hair.
Until next time, KINfolk – Keep It Naturally.