Lauryn Hill’s Hairstyles: Response to Style Politics/”Good Hair”

Our discussion on “good hair” and African American hairstyles made me try to think about different moments in popular culture when black women have worn their hair naturally (as in, left it at its natural texture, etc. – not chemically straightened/relaxed and stuff) and when/why, in these moments, these more natural hairstyles were allowed to be fashionable.

I’m a pretty big fan of Lauryn Hill and The Fugees, so the first thing that came to mind for me were a couple of their music videos. The first thing I thought of was Lauryn’s hair in “Killing Me Softly” – She basically has a full afro, and her hair looks awesome. Although, I’m not sure if all of it is her real hair or not, and I guess the fact that that thought occurred to me is interesting. Do you think this makes a difference? Is it better for her to have fake hair that looks less like it is taking after “white” hairstyles? Is it the same because it is still not her real hair and that fact, alone, signifies something?

The second video that came to mind for me was her video for “Doo Wop”. This video features Lauryn in a “past” setting (which is, like, around the 1960’s I think? Correct me if I am wrong. lol.) and in a “present” setting. However, it is in the “present” setting that she has a more natural hairstyle – a hairstyle that is considered more “ethnic” – and in the “past” setting where her hair is not natural. What, if anything, do you make of this (especially considering the documentary we watched this week)?

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