A Brief History of Curly Hair
Curly Hair: 1960s–1970s
In the 1960s and ‘70s, curly hair was all about the afro. During a time when long, straight hair was the norm, the afro was born out of the “Black is Beautiful” movement. Embracing one’s natural texture and wearing an afro was seen as a bold statement; a refusal to conform to white-dominating beauty standards.
Photo: Harry Langdon, Getty Images
Originally the lead singer of The Supremes, Diana Ross wore her natural hair in an afro style in the 1970s.
Photo: Jack Robinson, Getty Images
Never one to shy away from a statement, legendary singer and activist Nina Simone often wore her hair in an afro style.
American International Pictures
Actress Pam Grier is best known for iconic action and blaxploitation roles like Coffy and Foxy Brown. Grier often wore her hair in an afro for these roles and in her personal life.
Curly Hair: 1980s
As we moved out of the post-Vietnam era of the 1970s and into the 1980s, society’s definition of beauty began to change. When it came to hair, bigger suddenly became better. Curly-haired people wore their natural texture, and people with straight hair visited salons to get perms that would give them big curls.
A killer singing voice wasn’t the only thing about Whitney Houston that was big and bold! The famous singer embraced the 1980s trend of big curls, sporting them in music videos like, “I Wanna Dance With Somebody.”
Deborah Feingold, Getty Images
Diva Mariah Carey was also well-known for wearing her natural hair texture, often opting for wild, loose curls and waves.
Curly Hair: 1990s
While “The Rachel” dominated the trendy haircut scene in the ‘90s, there was certainly no lack of love for curly hair. In the ‘90s, people liked to experiment with different types of texture: from crimped hairstyles to loose waves, people liked to play with their texture in the ‘90s. Women also began wearing their natural curls in pixie cuts and shorter styles, a trend that would continue for the next several decades.
Sarah Jessica Parker
“Sex and the City” star Sarah Jessica Parker was often seen wearing her hair curly or wavy, usually with a VERY ‘90s middle part.
While Meg Ryan has had many different hairstyles through the years, she has almost always worn it wavy or curly, as shown in this short, curly pixie cut.
Curly Hair: 2000s–Now
Thanks to the trailblazers before us, it’s much more common these days to see people putting down the straighteners and embracing their curly hair. From curl-friendly products to curly clip-in hair extensions that help enhance your natural curls, there are more options than ever for people to rock their beautiful, natural texture. Nowadays, all bets are off when it comes to natural curls—we wear them everywhere and anywhere, from the dance floor to the board room… and we are HERE for it.
Zendaya is the Gen Z Queen of natural hair. The “Euphoria” star loves to switch up her look, incorporating her natural texture often in a wide array of bold styles.
Kevin Winter, Getty Images
Beyoncé isn’t afraid to embrace her natural texture! She is another star known for both big, bold, beautiful curls and soft waves.