MANE
S2 E1

MANE: The Evolution of Natural Hair on Screen

We’re in the midst of a Black culture renaissance in the media right now.

“Black Panther’s” success at the box office was a triumph for Black actors, as well as their hair. And they aren’t only being showcased on the big screen — television shows like “Insecure” and “Grown-ish” are also highlighting natural hair.

This representation is long overdue, considering women have been rocking their natural styles off-screen forever. The first time a woman was seen on screen rocking cornrows was in 1963, when Cicely Tyson wore them on the television series “East Side/West Side.” Pam Grier and Tracee Ellis Ross also helped bring afros and curls to the masses.

Today, actresses like Issa Rae and Yara Shahidi are making Black Hair a regular fixture on television, but “Black Panther” has arguably created the most successful moment for it thus far. The “Afrofuturistic” aesthetic in the movie celebrates traditional hairstyles and imagines what they would look like in an awesome alternate reality. The movie dominated at the box office, leading over other movies for a full five weeks. Its success proved that a mostly Black cast and their natural looks could be marketable and successful. Hopefully this upward momentum means that we’ll see even more Black culture represented on film in the near future.