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The afro has come to be symbolic through history, but what does the afro mean in 2014? Does your afro make you "alternative?"

It honestly depends on whom you ask and what their personal reflection of the word ‘alternative’ symbolizes to them. Whether one is talking about a subculture of the Natural Hair Movement (NHM) or merely a trend, there is an image that you can form in your mind on what an afro means in 2014.

An afro is defined as two things:

1) a style where thick, curly hair erects around the head and

2) a natural hairstyle of black people.

I prefer the New York Times’ definition when discussing Dante De Blasio’s hair during his father’s mayoral campaign in New York, “The Afro as a Natural Expression of Self.” An afro holds more significance than a hairstyle and I must admit, it means even more than the self-expression.

Sometimes words get muddled and misappropriated with usages that have no real connection and before you know it, they take on a new or expanded meanings. Today when you see a woman sporting an afro, oftentimes she is associated with the terms hipster, bohemian, or even Afro Punk. But what does that all mean?  Well, it simply means the afro has transformed from its origin of self-love and freedom of expression within American history into a lifestyle and subculture.

The NHM has brought scores of black woman to a new place in their lives where beauty is no longer gauged solely by European standards. As curls, coils and waves are springing up and demanding to be admired, straight hair is no longer exclusively deemed as desirable. But embracing an afro is manifesting simultaneously with another movement where healthy living, fashion, and political thought encompasses our hair and ties to its existence.

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