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Black Beauty Heritage: History of Headwraps and How to Style Them Today

Black Beauty Heritage: History of Headwraps and How to Style Them Today

Head wraps has been a common trend for African American women. Many of us find head wraps to be practical, while also being fashionable and  a way to demonstrate our sense of style. The head wrap, which is a standard 70 inches by 22 inches, is known for carrying a symbolic meaning of spirituality, wealth, prosperity, and class in the African community. The history of head wraps dates back to slavery and serves multiple uses in the African American community. From protecting the hair to ceremonial wear, the head wrap continues to celebrate African heritage and is also used to add meaning to church attire.

African History

The head wrap tradition stems back to the cloths and pieces of wrap that graced our ancestors’ heads in sub-Saharan Africa. Before head wraps were a choice for African American women, those who came before us were forced to wear a headwrap to mark themselves as a slave woman and to differentiate the social status of African American women and Caucasian women. However, once our ancestors began to understand the value of head wraps, they started to use head wraps to pass code from one slave to another through their styling and also use these wraps as protection from the sun. These African American changemakers  were able to remove the negative stigma of head wraps that symbolized slavery and created a head wrap tradition that we still continue and ehance upon today.

The aftermath from the beginning of the head wraps tradition in the African American community has created a new stigma for head wraps and the way it is worn. Helen Bradly Griebel explains in her piece of work, The African American Woman’s Headwrap: Unwinding the Symbols, how the meaning of the head wrap was transformed into empowerment and is now a representation of African American history. 

Ngome Lifestyle

One organization located in the lowcountry, Beaufort, South Carolina, understands how important head wraps are to the African American community. Ngome Lifestyle is an Afropolitan boutique that provides a Royal Wrap subscription box for women to gift to their friends or buy for themselves. Each surprise monthly theme box contains 1 or 2 premium head wraps, a matching accessory, a head wrap affirmation/queen card, and a surprise bonus item. Each box is valued at $100 or more, however Ngome Lifestyle offers this subscription for only $54.99 a month with the hopes of providing African American women with cultural keepsakes and stylish fashionable head wrap attire.

Styling Head Wraps Tips

After receiving your head wrap subscription box from Ngome Lifestyle Afropolitan boutique or pulling out the head wraps that you already have, styling is next on the list of things to do. From top knot styling to a twisted crown style there are many styles that anyone can achieve with just a few tips. 

Tip 1: Don’t style the head wrap too tight 

Wearing a tight head wrap could cause headaches and also pressure on a woman’s edges and nape of hair.

Tip 2: Try using silk and satin head wraps

Silk and satin wraps are known for locking in hair moisture and are used to protect hair while underneath the wrap and keeps hair as curly or straight as possible. 

Tip 3: Explore with styling

There is no wrong way of styling a head wrap. Feel free to try a top knot, cinnamon roll, big bun, twisted crown, back twist bun, or bow. Check out BuzzFeed, African Hair, or Natural Curly for more ideas on head wrap styling. 

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Terrianna Mccullough
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