White Man to Sisters: Bring Back the 'Fro!

Akoto Ofori-Atta with her Afro, taken by staff writer Jenée Desmond-Harris
Akoto Ofori-Atta with her Afro, taken by staff writer Jenée Desmond-Harris

(The Root) — Ladies, I know we haven't had this conversation, but it's time. We really need to talk about this. We really don't talk about it as much as we should.


We no longer have to conform to European standards of beauty. We don't have to shellac wads of chemical straightening cream on our scalps every six weeks in hopes of removing any memory of curl from our manes. We can ditch the lace front. Yes, black girls, we can go natural. We can wear Afros.

This is not a suggestion from a 1988 Essence article. Nor is it a story from the Onion mocking the excessive coverage of the 10-year-old "natural-hair movement." This gem comes from fashion guy Simon Doonan, who wrote a piece for Slate asking black women to rock their all-powerful hair big, round and in its natural state.

I won't knock him for being moved by stunning Pam Grier — whose blaxploitation work inspired him to call on all black girls to embrace their inner "afro queen" (whatever that means). But is she the only black woman he's actually paid any attention to since 1977? He writes, " … the afro has — with the exception of occasional retro-hipster sighting on Broadway below Eighth Street — become as rare as a dodo."

Clearly he doesn't traffic in another area of New York City: Brooklyn, where a 'fro is basically like the E-Z Pass you show to get off the bridge to gain entry. But Doonan doesn't have to go to Brooklyn. He could just pay attention to commercials, or to every fourth black girl who walks by him in Manhattan, or to the shampoo aisle at Duane Reade. The natural-hair movement was born, lived, had a backlash, died and has now been absorbed into culture. And this dude missed the whole damn thing!

But here was the best part, the part that had the staff in stitches: "Thanks to the current unpopularity of the afro, afro picks can be purchased at rock-bottom prices." This is completely made up, but I admire his attempt to apply proper supply-and-demand theory to this phenomenon. 

I rock a 'fro, and there are at least a gazillion black girls just like me walking around Brooklyn, Atlanta, Chicago, Queens, Harlem, Boston, Connecticut, D.C., Florida, Virginia, Cali and everywhere else. All you would have to do, Mr. Doonan, is pay attention. Or at least do a Google search before you write. 


But thanks for the laughs!

Akoto Ofori-Atta is the assistant editor and social media manager for The Root. Follow her on Twitter.


If you want to see what's hot on black Twitter, check out The Chatterati.Akoto Ofori-Atta is the editor of The Grapevine. Like her Facebook page and follow her on Twitter.