Because they’re currently popular with young people and the hip hop and rap communities, cornrows may seem like a modern and cutting edge hairstyle. However, they’ve actually been around for hundreds of years. They’ve achieved this popularity because of their versatility and maintainability. These factors make cornrow updo hairstyles perfect for a variety of occasions.
A cornrow is a tiny braid which is woven right next to the scalp, sort of like a french braid. It can take hours to cover an entire head in these plaits, but the result is a clean, polished look. The first people to braid hair in such a way lived in Africa, where different regions had different customs associated with the braids. For instance, only women traditionally wore their hair in cornrows in Nigeria, while warriors and kings wore them in Ethiopia. The hairstyle was brought to America by slaves, who continued to practice it as a way to hold onto their traditions.
By the middle of the 20th century, it had become unpopular to wear one’s hair in cornrows. Most black women chose instead to straighten their hair. Many of them changed their minds, however, when they saw actress Cicely Tyson on television with cornrowed hair. Over the next couple of decades, it became extremely popular for black women to wear their hair in a style that exhibited its natural texture, such as the cornrow.
Because the style began in Africa, it is often presumed that only black men and women can pull off cornrows. However, Bo Derek disproved this theory in 1979 when she was seen in the film ’10’ wearing her hair in long, blonde braids. Later, the hip hop movement of the 1990s had men and women of all ethnic backgrounds successfully sporting the hairstyle.
This hairstyle offers a variety of options to its wearer. The braids are easy to maintain, needing only a gentle washing and a little oil every couple of days, so they’re great for anyone who doesn’t want to worry about a lot of upkeep. At the same time, they can look fantastic as part of a formal updo. Musical artists like Alicia Keys, Ciara, Lil Mama, and Mya have all made stunning appearances with their hair partially or totally braided.
While cornrows were first seen in ancient Africa, they have made a successful transition to modern America. They are simple to maintain, so they are a great look to wear every day, but they can also look amazing as part of an elaborate updo. These qualities make them a classic and versatile hairstyle