Hair defines who we are by showing how we want to look. However, these days curly hair may come off as over-fashioned and not true to a woman’s natural look. Luckily, our history is chock full of societies that embraced, even preferred their naturally curly hair.
As early as Ancient Greece and Rome, women were killing it with the all-curl look. Around 1500 B.C.E., Greek women favored gorgeous, elaborate hair styles and a crown of ringlets. They totally outdid themselves with artistic chignons and well placed flowers.
Romans took it to the next level. During the Roman Republic, even before their great Empire, Roman women used curling tongs so they could curl their purposely lightened hair to be fixed high on their heads.
A millennia later, curly hair love came back as the Renaissance challenged Europe with a new perspective; instead of hair being a negative symbol of eroticism, it was prized as beautiful. Paintings show women with long, flowing waves and curls resting softly around the shoulders as their most prized possession.
Skip to the Age of Enlightenment, when people started questioning everything and everyone about our scientific spiritual purposes for existence. A couple hundred years after the birth of the Renaissance, both sexes both would wear those ridiculous powdered-white wigs, adorned with mini gardens, cages containing birds, and, as I’m sure the Romans did, flowers, decorating their hair as much as their clothes!
If the Enlightened thinkers did as the Romans did, the early 1900s favored the Greeks. Curling tongs were once again used by Greek women, to create a pulled back look that still allowed for just a bit of curl around the edges. If it weren’t for this Edwardian style, curly hairstyles today would have not followed the natural head shape of the individual.
The 1920s popularized flapper dresses with a Clara Bow-like bob. To fight against the crushing corsets and puritanical ways, the 20’s and 30’s hair consisted of pin curls and finger waves, stylized and glossy.
Hollywood glam struck the world in the 30’s, and Greta Garbo’s glossed and flatter look took center stage.
The 1940s hair is one of the most popular and recreated looks today. Sure, you may go to an 80’s party and frizz your hair out, but long, soft curls reigned supreme. There may have been a lack of luxury due to the war, but if Bette Davis could wear her curly hair long and parted to the side, so could you.
It wasn’t until the 1980s, that curly hair had once again been considered “in vogue.” The 80’s gave us the poofy, extreme hair,the “jheri curl” and even that high side pony with the crimped or curly hair.
Today, it’s okay to have those stylized curls and waves. We don’t need to use nearly as much hair spray as the 80’s called for, or gel that the 50s called for. Flowers and bird cages are reserved for flower girls at weddings with Lady Gaga. And today, you can pretty much have any color of hair you want, whether you want to go red or keep your own beautiful color. If history has taught us anything, it’s that it repeats itself. Lucky for us, women with curly hair have come a long way.
Written By: Samantha Berley
Samantha Berley is an author and freelance writer born and raised in sunny California. As a lover and not a fighter, Samantha has embraced her curly hair and has become her own hair expert. Her work has been published in various online and print publications such as the hair website Naturally Curly as well as Social Media Week Los Angeles, GeekPeeks, TasteTablet, Halftime Magazine and Everydog Magazine. Samantha is currently working on the second half of her novel, Code Periwinkle Blue.