Celebrating The Beauty Of Big Hair: A Timeline Of Afros


The Afro – an illustrious hairstyle slowly making its way back into the mainstream, mostly due to the prevalence of the now booming natural hair movement. But should it be called a movement or just an evolution of sorts. Black women taking back the power to maintain whatever hairstyle of their choosing and not just conforming to the beauty standards that are set by those who don’t fully understand the diversity that is black hair. I challenge anyone to look through these images and not join me in celebrating the beauty that is the Afro; not just a hairstyle but also a statement – I am not my hair- although my hair is fabulous.

1968 - Diana Ross

Photo Source: oz.wikia.com

The 1960’s came with a rejection of the established norm of straightening hair.  Leading to mainstream musicians such as Diana Ross masterfully rocking the Afro.

1970 - Marsha Hunt

Photo Source: femmeandfatal.com

Singer, novelist, actress and the first black model to appear on the cover of Queen magazine.

1974 - Pam Grier

Photo Source: willmckinley.wordpress.com

Pam Grier found her niche, staring in blaxploitation action films in the early 70’s

1974 – Angela Davies

Photo Source: fineartamerica.com

Seen largely as a political prisoner, Angela Davies personified the rebel against the mainstream ideal that was behind the rise of the big hair / Afro trend.

The 80’s and 90’s did not seem to hold the same esteem for the Afro. Not many, if any examples of Afros in the media can be found. Perhaps that in itself is telling of changing ideals and priorities, particularly as it relates to black hair.

1999 - Iman

Photo Source: tumblr.com

Like all things classic, the Afro made its way back on the scene. Naturally sported on Iman, a trailblazer herself. What better way for big hair to make a come back than on someone so iconic.

Although the Afro’s return was slow going to begin with. In the early 2000’s, there wasn’t much mainstream coverage of women rocking their natural big hair

2002 - Corinne Bailey Rae


Photo Source: tonetalk.wordpress.com

2003 – Erykah Badu

Photo Source: tumblr.com

2004 - Macy gray

Photo Source: thestylerebels.com


2009 - Shingai Shoniwa


Photo Source: aaronlee.co.uk

2009 - Kelis


Photo Source: blogue.us

2010 - Sophie Okonedo

Photo Source: eurweb.com


2010 – Lauryn Hill


Photo Source: themanifesto.ca

2011 - Rihanna


Photo Source: whitneymarieuk.com

2011 – Beyonce


Photo Source: commons.wikimedia.org

2012 – Solange Knowles


Photo Source: thephotographer4you.com

2012 - Kelly Rowland


Photo Source: theuptownlounge.com

2014 - Jill Scott


Photo Source: bellasugar.com

The Afro will always be iconic and is becoming more and more of a mainstay hairstyle. Fashion and beauty trends always recycle but this trend is here to stay. Since it first made its appearance in the mainstream, the Afro has always been about taking back power, and owning what is yours unapologetically. With the increased emphasis on combating skewed beauty standards and embracing individuality, the Afro allows for versatility and experimentation. Because of the increased market for products that cater to afro style hair, it is becoming easier and easier to not only maintain your own personal take on big hair but to also emulate the iconic big hair icons such as Diana Ross and more recently Solange Knowles.

Words: Kudzanai Mutetwa