Day: September 6, 2020

Why Hairstyling Is a Form of Art for Black Women

Carlos Idun-Tawiah

Like so many of the words in Ghanaian languages, the Twi term “obaasima” means one thing, and everything, at the same time.

Obaasima can refer to a virtuous woman, or someone who is multifaceted, engaged, and well groomed.

As the term relates to hair in specific, pre-colonial African societies used the art of hairstyling and grooming to create distinction amongst several groups, as well as marking a symbolic part of one’s journey through life, one’s growth, and one’s new status. Sculptures from this era showcase various styles and adornments; some extravagant and complicated to denote high status, like the ornaments, hairpins, and metal plates worn by the Luba peoples. While others opted for simple and short looks.

These practices have trickled down to contemporary Africa, and across the diaspora, where in visualizing what seems to be a normal hair day — an experience that many people with African

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