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Raquel Gates was shopping for hair products at her local drugstore when she came across the new Garnier Fructis Style Hard Curl Gel.

She was looking over different curly style suggestions on the label when she saw the phrase 'No Fro Curls' -- a description that shocked and angered her. She was so upset that she sent a letter to the company to voice her opinion.

'Such a phrase implies that a 'fro' is undesirable and inherently unattractive and that your product will not be used by individuals who have and want to accentuate their 'fro,' Gates wrote in her letter to the company. 'Furthermore, your insistence on using such a phrase implicitly links 'fro' to the other unwanted characteristics listed on the back of the tube, including 'unmanageable' and 'unruly.''

In recent years, acceptance of natural texture has grown exponentially. But despite the huge strides that have been made, there is a still a perception that there is one ideal of curl beauty—long, defined curls. One CurlTalk member called them 'Stepford Curls.'

'There is this attitude that you should come to embrace your curly hair as long as it hangs downward, has shine instead of sheen and is defined instead of big,' Gates said.

Not everyone wants or should have the same curly look, said 'Textured Tresses' author Diane Da Costa. The afro is a stylish and desirable style for many men, women and children. 'Afros are in right now,' Da Costa said.

The style became popular in the 1960s and 1970s in connection with the growth of the Black Pride and Black Power movements. The style was a rebellion of the use of hair straighteners used to mimic the straightness of Caucasian hair. An afro became the epitome of 'Black is Beautiful!', a popular slogan of the time.

In the 1970s, afros made their way into mainstream culture, becoming a major fashion trend embraced by people of all ethnicities and backgrounds

Today, bushy afros are gracing the runways of Paris and Milan and have become popular in the entertainment industry. Today's 'fros come in all shapes and sizes, sometimes incorporating braids, twists and beads.

'I understand Miami is blooming with 'fros right now,' Da Costa said.

The term afro means different things to different people.

Wikepedia defines it as a 'hairstyle in which the hair extends out from the head like a halo or cloud. Some people wear their afros long, to several times the diameter of the head.'

'When I think of an afro, I think of frizz,' said Titi of Curve Salon in Brooklyn. 'And frizz can be good. I like a little bit of frizz in my curl.'

'For me, an afro has a certain image,' said actress T'Keyah Crystal Keymah. 'It has a prideful connotation. It connotes black acceptance and black beauty.'

Da Costa defines it as 'a large mass of kinky, tightly coiled hair.' She said afros can be very curly or tightly coily. But what makes a 'fro a 'fro, she said, is its size.

"It's the bigness of it," she said.

Today's 'fros can be textured, curly or straighter, Da Costa said.

'Hair can be texturized and still be a 'fro,' she said. 'If it's big and large, it's a 'fro,' Da Costa said.

When Lisa Goddard (aka CurlTalker Webjockey) wanted an afro, she went to a black barber who picked out her hair and used his barber shears to give it a nice, feminine shape. Then his advice was to 'use as little product as possible.'

'Definitely no gels,' Goddard said. 'It's a minimalist, no-fuss hairstyle. You just want to provide moisture and sheen. Let it do what it needs to do. Shape it with a pick or your hands.'

You can get it curlier or straighter by manipulating it with products or a blowdryer, Da Costa said. Individual curls can be defined to create a mixture of textures.

An afro must be kept moisturized. Da Costa recommends using oils and moisturizing conditioners. Moisturizing pomades and light essential oils can be used to moisturize it daily.

She suggests using a light, leave-in conditioner Stay away from heavy creams, butters and oils.

'You don't want to weigh it down,' Da Costa said.

Thanks to the efforts of Da Costa, Gates and many others, the afro will be around for a long time. After getting Gates' letter, Garnier officials immediately responded with an apology and assurances that the company had taken steps to change the insenstive copy on the gel. They also assured her that no offense was meant.

'I was very happy they took action,' Gates said.


Afro product recommendations

Shampoos: PhytoSpecific Vital Force Shampoo Devacurl No Poo Jessicurl Hair Cleansing Cream Oyin Grand Poo Bar Leave-ins Mia Simone's Boutique Aloe Vera Herbal Leave-In Treatment Tai Texture Lavender Mist Oyin Greg Juice Devacurl Mist-er Right Shea Butter Elasta QP Mango Butter Miss Jessie's Buttercreme Qhemet Biologics Olive & Honey Hydrating Balm Akiva Naturals Secret Potion Long Lovely Locks Coco Light Hamadi Shea Leave-In

Oils Mizani Moisture Comfort Oil Aveda Energizing Nutrients Organic Root Stimulator Carrot Oil Organic Root Stimulator Jojoba Oil Ebene Conditioning Styling Oil Spray Ebene Shea Butter Regenerating Hair Treatment Oil Carol's Daughter Lady Day Leave-In Conditioner Qhemet Biologics Herbal Henna Botanical Softening Oil Curls Pure Avocado Oil Jessicurl Oil Blend for Softer Hair Shea Terra Organics Certified Organic Shea Butter

Conditioners Phytospecific Cream Bath L'Oreal Kerastase Conditioner Ojon KeraCare Humecto Qhemet Biologics Amla & Olive Heavy Cream Pantene Pro-V Relaxed and Natural Oyin Honey Hemp Conditioner

Stylers Aveda Styling Curessence Aveda Light Elements Cream Jane Carter Nourish & Shine Tai Texture Twist Cream Softsheen-Carson Stay Soft Fro Qhemet Biologics Honeybush Hair Tea Miss Jessie's Curly Meringue Miss Jessie's Curly Pudding My HoneyChild Type 4 Hair Creme Akiva Naturals Healthy Hair Honey Mia Simone's Boutique Locs, Coils, Waves & Curls Moisture Rich Stying Souffle Oyin Shine and Define Styling Serum

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