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Cornrows

Cornrows
Cornrows are braids that lay flat along the head.  They are similar to French braids except that they are braided using an underhand technique, more like a Dutch braid.  Unlike Dutch braids or French braids though, they're done along narrow sections of parted hair.

Learn How to Braid Cornrows!They are symbolic of order, agriculture, civilization, and strong family ties.  When you see a woman with elaborate cornrows in Africa, it means that she is very cared for in her family.  It is unknown when exactly they were invented, but it was probably pretty early in human history since flat braids are seen in almost every culture in the world.  They just weren't as popular in most places where people had straighter hair with a thicker, more slippery cuticle layer.  They are the standard in most African cultures that allow women to grow their hair.

In most African cultures, they're considered a women's hairstyle, but nowadays it's more acceptable in some places for men to wear them.

In the United States, many people of African descent abandoned natural hairstyles, and prefer to wear their hair pressed with hot combs or chemically "relaxed".  There was a resurgence during the 1960's with the Black is Beautiful movement, and then a greater trend that spanned across ethnicities starting in the 1990's with the grunge movement.  It is now not so unusual to see people of all ethnicities wearing cornrows, dreadlocks, or other African hairstyles.

For one of the world's oldest hairstyles, cornrows have been very controversial lately.  Some schools, sectors of government, and companies have tried to ban them for students or employees.  In the United States, supposedly a country priding itself in religious freedom and ethnic/racial equality, it is impossible to be a licensed braider in most states, even those that have laws that braiders must be licensed.

Despite the opposition and the controversy, cornrows are here to stay.  So many people of varying ethnicities are wearing cornrows, dreadlocks, and braids now, and so many hair stylists learning the art, that all the hype against them seems silly now.  Yulia Tymoshenko, the prime minister of the Ukraine wears a traditional braided style as her signature look.  Malia Obama, daughter of U.S. President Barack Obama, wears her hair natural with braids or cornrows.

Click here for MTC's info page on African clothing.

Learn How to Braid Cornrows

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