You may have noticed that a certain comic book adaptation has been making a few low key waves in your city or town recently *insert tongue in cheek emoji*. Who are we kidding! Marvel science fiction/fantasy flick Black Panther has been nothing short of a phenomenon. A cultural moment that will be referred to in years to come, among not only film pundits but everyday people across the globe. Unless your citizenship on planet earth was temporarily revoked recently, there was no escaping the plethora of media coverage and social media hysteria that has contributed to the film becoming a box office smash, at the time of print amassing a jaw dropping US $426 million worldwide box office receipts, shattering records in the process. There are so many positive and insightful things to say about the film – its all black cast, black director, the Utopian envisioning of Wakanda, progressive representations of female characters, to name a few But of course, we couldn’t help but focus on the significance of the hairstyles. Hair product manufacturer Alisia Forbes of GrowAfro offers a historical breakdown on some of the standout natural hairstyles in the film, alongside tips on how to replicate.
Over to you, Alisia…
Whilst discussing the hairstyles created for the Black Panther, lead hairstylist Camille Friend has stated “There was no press and comb in this movie.”No relaxers, no nothing! That was one of the things that I really was firm about. I requested that people come with their natural hair. The visionary stylist told Huff Post: I used a lot of reference books, especially books about Africa. Basically I started with resource books, looking at African books and just looking at different tribes and looking at the hair textures, looking at the clothes, looking at the textiles, even looking at the terrain of the country and the colour of the earth
The movie is indeed a celebration of black hairstyles, past and present, so I’ve broken down the standout styles along with estimated times on how to achieve each look.
3-4 hours – Lupita Nyong’o is wearing a hairstyle commonly known as Bantu knots. It is said to have originated centuries ago with the Zulu tribes in southern Africa. Each Bantu knot is formed by twisting small sections of hair and then wrapping it around itself. This style takes approximately 3 hours. It can easily become undone, therefore preventing the need to itch the scalp is very important. GrowAfro – Long and Thick Scalp Serum eliminates serum eliminates this need due to its anti-fungal and anti-bacterial properties.
8 hours – The character Shuri is wearing a semi micro braids. This hairstyle typically takes one person approximately 8 hours to do. Hair braiding has a long history, as far as 3500 B.C. This involves plaiting extensions into your own hair for length and versatility. Given the nature of Afro hair, this hairstyle can indeed last for a long time, but it’s best to keep them in no longer than four weeks to prevent breakage to your own hair.
4-6 hours – Queen Ramonda played by the legendary actress Angela Bassett is sporting locs. This is actually a wig which took 3 months to make. Historians trace the style back to 2500 BC. As Dr. Bert Ashe, professor of English and American studies at the University of Richmond, states that the first written evidence is found in India and later Egypt. However, it was later popularised by Bob Marley and Jamaican national hero Marcus Garvey. On average, the locking process takes three to six months. It starts with twisting the hair and leaving it indefinitely. After about two years, locks become “mature.” in appearance. This style is very versatile, can washed and styled as desired and has the potential to grow up to 19 feet, 6 inches long.