Today, hair-braids are not only a cultural tradition of people of African descent, but a major component of a pop culture that cuts across racial, economic, social and in many cases, geographic lines.
When worn in Japan braids are referred to as “Hip-Hop” cuts; while in the U.S. the hairstyle is sported by entertainers ranging from country singer, Willie Nelson to Hip-Hop artist Mary J. Blige.
It is apparent that braids have penetrated almost every segment of society. But, what is it that makes them so popular? The reasons are simple. Braids are:
Long-lasting: Braids can last several weeks to several months depending on the style and client requirements. The initial time spent styling braids can run from a couple of hours to six-seven hours, however in the long run this can be a good investment in time because the style generally last so long.
Easy Care: Once in place braids are shampoo and go. Simply shampoo the scalp, rinse, coat braids with recommended oil or moisturizer and that’s it until the next shampoo. There is a maintenance requirement recommended for certain braids, but the cost and time involved is minimal.
Versatile: There are numerous styles of braids, such as cornrows, French braids, basket braids, etc. As a hair-style, what really knocks braids out of the box are designer styles. A stylist can look at the shape of the face and/or the head of a client, and custom create a style just for that individual. In that respect braided-hair styles are limitless in their possibilities.
Attractive: Braids are naturally suited to the curly texture of African hair, however anyone can wear braids attractively. Styles such as micro-braids (smaller sections of hair used and smaller braids created), works especially well with fine, long hair; and the good news is … there are multiple variations on the micro style of braids.
Inexpensive: Although the initial cost of getting braids can be expensive because of the time and expertise required, professional upkeep is little to none, therefore in the long run, they can be quite cost effective.
A Political/Cultural Statement: Many African-Americans, and Africans for that matter who wear natural braids (hair not straightened or processed in any way), wear it that way as an expression of who they are naturally … as it relates to their roots, to Africa, to their ancestry.
Aside from all the possible reasons people wear braids, probably most wear them simply because … they’re fashionable.