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Shocking History: Why Women of Color in the 1800s Were Banned From Wearing Their Hair in Public

• Jul 7, 2014

tignon woman of color

Woman in Tignon credit

Did you know that in late 18th century Louisiana, black and multiracial women were ordered to cover their hair in public?” My sister asked me.

WOW. Really?” I replied.

I’d probably heard of this in one of my black studies classes in undergrad, but who remembers everything they’ve been taught? Besides, this information felt instantly relevant and I was absolutely intrigued.

It wasn’t unusual for me to feel myself gaining brain cells while in conversation with my sisters, but by the time I caught my racing thoughts so I could ask her some questions, it was time to take care of my baby girl. I knew, however that this was a topic worth visiting again.

With a little digging I found that there was in fact a “law” of sorts that demanded women of color in Louisiana to cover their hair with a fabric cloth starting in 1789 as a part of what was called the Bando du buen gobierno (Edict for Good Government).  What these rules were meant to do was try to curtail the growing influence of the free black population and keep the social order of the time. The edict included sections specifically about the changing of certain “unacceptable” behaviors of the free black women in the colony including putting an end to what he and others believed to be the overly ostentatious hairstyles of these ladies which drew the attention of white men, and the jealousy of white women. These rules are called the “Tignon Laws” A tignon (pronounced “tiyon”) is a headdress.

woman of color tignon 2

Credit

Apparently, women of color were wearing their hair in such fabulous ways, adding jewels and feathers to their high hairdos and walking around with such beauty and pride that it was obscuring their status. This was very threatening to the social stability (read: white population) of the area at the time. The law was meant to distinguish women of color from their white counterparts and to minimize their beauty.

Black and multi racial women began to adopt the tignon, but not without a little ingenuity. Many tied the tignon in elaborate ways and used beautiful fabrics and other additions to the headdress to make them appealing. In the end, what was meant to draw less attention to them made these ladies even more beautiful and alluring.

This bit of history only makes me feel even more proud about wearing my natural hair out or in pretty head wraps.

My take away: We should realize and embrace the inherent beauty of our blackness and all that makes us unique, especially our hair. Even history teaches us it’s all so notably beautiful!

Have you heard of any additional laws specifically targeting black women of the past?

Cassandre Beccai: Just another naturalista playing by my own rules!

To read more:

Clinton, Catherine and Michele Gillespie. Sex and Race in the Early South. New   York: Orxford University Press, 1997.

Fosset, Judith Jackson and Jeffrey A. Tucker. Race Consciousness. New York: New York University Press. 1997.

Roman, Miriam Jimenez and Juan Flores. The Afro-Latin@ Reader History and Culture in the United States. Duke University Press, 2010.

Tignon of Colonial Lousiana” http://medianola.org/ Jeila Martin Kershaw Web. 5 July 2014

Roberts, Kevin David, B.A.; M.A. Slaves and Slavery in Louisiana:

The Evolution of Atlantic World Identities, 1791–1831. Diss. The University of Texas at Austin, 2003.

About Cassandre

Just another naturalista playing by my own rules! Got hair that doesn't seem to grow past your shoulders? Check out my free Grow Your Hair Faster Video Course

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Jamz
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Jamz

Very interesting to know! Had no idea…

mlank64
Guest
mlank64

Lousianna has an interesting history concerning women of color. I took note of this history when I was watching an old movie on TCM with Ingrid Bergman..called “Saratoga Trunk”. In the movie, Ingrid Bergman returns to Lousianna from Paris to reclaim her status as a half creole woman. In the movie they only intimate that she was descended from women of color called Placees. See below: “Plaçage was a recognized extralegal system in French and Spanish slave colonies of North America (including the Caribbean) by which ethnic European men entered into the equivalent of common‐law marriages with women of color,… Read more »

Brandi Quezaire
Guest
Brandi Quezaire

thanks, mlank 64! You just cleared up a lot questions I had about why I couldn’t find a lot about my 4‐times great‐grandfather Alphonse a white Spanish man and my 4‐times great‐grandmother Rosella a mulatta from Louisiana. That’s why I love this site, I learn something new all the time on here.

mlank64
Guest
mlank64

Wow, this article was so timely because I just came across the movie on TCM about a week ago. The movie sparked an interest in me because I know so very little about black women in Lousianna, and creole women in general. Creole…aristocracy of spanish and french people? Many women typically light skinned women or women who can pass for white but had african ancestry often were in this “common law” marriages with creole men. There seems to be a common thread throughout history concerning women of color and are desirability to other races. Laws and social constructs were established… Read more »

Mary
Guest
Mary

There is a new one recently passed in the army…

kb
Guest
kb

My great‐aunt was a maid. My Grandmom told me she would have to wear hair in a scarf, bc white women, didn’t want their husbands, looking at her.

Ebony
Guest
Ebony

This doesn’t surprise me at all. They have had hate for black women for centuries.

Yayla
Guest
Yayla

Wow, how telling is that? …It could ironically be argued today that present media/social beauty rules & “laws”, which are Eurocentric and Caucasian directed, demand that women of colour cover their natural hair or in some way disguise or conceal it with the following: Chemical relaxers, weaves, bleach,… Basically anything which betrays its natural state and conceals or at least detracts from its Afrocentric appearance. Sadly, in order to gain social acceptance and feel “beautiful” many black women comply. The good news is, many of us are waking up to this fact.

mlank64
Guest
mlank64

Yayla…absolutely!!! That’s why when people say ‘what’s the big deal…it’s just hair” You know they don’t have a complete understanding of their history. Knowledge is power. When you understand your history, your unique beauty, and the reactions to our understanding of our history then it is all that more important to wear our hair proudly in its natural state.

Yayla
Guest
Yayla

Thanks Mlank64 🙂 I appreciate your support & am really encouraged by all the thumbs ups to see there are others who feel the same way too.

Chala
Guest
Chala

No, I haven’t but this turned out to be pretty awesome how this backfired on the white women that mistreated black women of that time. If the white men want the black women, they were going for them anyway because they were forbidden and had curves that most white women of that time only dreamed of. Lmbo! This was sad in the beginning but turned out to be awesome in the end. #HappyToBeABlackFemale

flouncingtart
Guest
flouncingtart

If the white men want the black women, they were going for them anyway because they were forbidden and had curves that most white women of that time only dreamed of.”

Often times at the detriment of black and multiracial women, unfortunately.

Gold Aura
Guest
Gold Aura

Often times at the detriment of black and multiracial women, unfortunately.” You are so right. Its not like those men had any respect for Black or multiracial women. Especially during that time period. Even now, alot of them walk around with this sense of entitlement and superiority when it comes to other races of women. They are taught from early childhood that it is their “birthright” to have any woman they want and that they are at the top of every society.

Nina
Guest
Nina

Glad to know this. Thanks for the article!

belle
Guest
belle

very well written and insightful!

West
Guest

Never knew this! Very interesting. Also interesting that this article falls on the heels of the great debate of WW joining the natural hair movement. Many are so adamant that we should be inclusive, but this article is another point as to why the “struggle” is not the same and should not be equated.

Great read!

Rae
Guest
Rae

Yes, I have heard of this law and historical period. Those Black women took those Tignon and added so much flair and style, they became a fashion statement. SEE Marie Laveau…

kinksnnaps
Guest
kinksnnaps

I already knew this but very interesting.

One of many reasons there is a natural hair movement for black women. 🙂

Andrea
Guest
Andrea

Yes indeed seems like the southern laws even in the French providence of Louisana were thinking up all kinds of ludicrous ideas and sanctions to scrutinize the women of color. Suppose it had a lot to do with the liberties of laxness that so many black and mètis women had in this region. Most especially with intermarriage with French men and also having the rights to own property in the 1700’s.It seems like as they drew closer to the 1800s that the pressure of the “southern way of life” immerged into the once ambiguously moderate liberal French Louisana and began… Read more »

Jc
Guest

Nicely written Cassandre, makes me very curious!

Jewels
Guest
Jewels

You still wanna compare a white women’s struggle to ours.

Jc
Guest

Don’t be silly Jewels, this is chalk and cheese. If you actually read my words, I said that a journey to self love where you were growing up being told your hair was not good enough is something that people can relate to regardless of race. End of finito, I never said white people can understand racism to the level of someone who has experienced it. Many of the comments here much like mine were unaware of this portion of history, so it could not possibly have been a relevant part of the previous debate. Don’t spoil what is a… Read more »

#Adoseofreality
Guest
#Adoseofreality

The only thing that’s silly, Jc, (and down‐right ludicrous, to be honest) is your comparison of Black women’s exclusivity in the NHM to APARTHEID in your recent article. Even before learning of these Tignon laws, majority of us on this site were not oblivious to how White women and Whites in general have been resentful of our aesthetics. I mean, that’s the whole REASON they have and continue to force their beauty standards on us (yes, even the White curlies/frizzies are guilty of this) because they KNOW that they CANNOT compete with Black women in that regard. Why do you… Read more »

Deedeemaha
Guest
Deedeemaha

I really enjoyed this article. It was beautifully written.

Poshnera
Guest
Poshnera

I love learning information like this. It’s so funny because I look at both pictures and they still look fabulous. If you’re born beautiful not even dirt can make you look bad! Thank you for the info.

Longpig
Guest
Longpig

Black ingenuity coming from way back! *cackling*

Prettydarkskinnedgirl
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Prettydarkskinnedgirl

Yet another story of how women of non‐ethnic background felt threatened by our appearance. Now they’ve gone from envious & threatened to envious & emulating. They copy our lips, our hair, our hips & our butts smh. Whatever race a woman is, she should embrace it & just thank God she’s a woman period!
#doyou

Fabiola
Guest
Fabiola

Please, please, please, please post more articles like this.

Awesome read!

Nitocris
Guest

This is an interesting piece of our history. To think the fascination with our natural hair goes so far back. I love that the women turned the Tignon into a fashion item, it feels like a deliberate middle finger to the ridiculous edict.

Honeybrown1976
Guest
Honeybrown1976

I wish I could say I was surprised; but I’m not. Many of the rules against colored people were based on curbing the “white male gaze”, which threatened the myth of white female beauty/western standards of beauty. Miscegenation laws were created only after men of color (read: black men) came over to North America; otherwise, white men were mating with women of color.

There’s always something sinister behind laws. We must go deeper. Thanks for sharing. (Hell, we rocked the scarves and they still looked! Damned if you do, damned if you don’t)

flouncingtart
Guest
flouncingtart

I think “mating with” implies consent, when often they would rape black (and indigenous) women. I think we should remember that many of these women could not consent under slavery and that many were also underaged/teenagers.

Honeybrown1976
Guest
Honeybrown1976

True, as there wasn’t any real consent. Totally agree.

arnellie
Guest
arnellie

wow!!!! this article was so amazingly written and so informative!!! please keep writing articles like this!!! loving this writer!

Rayvan
Guest
Rayvan

I was just telling my sister about this. The documentary Dark Girls touched on this subject. This is why natural hair is so important. For hundreds of years we were told to cover our beauty, and that other races were more beautiful and desirable. Loved the article, thank you.

Knotty Natural
Guest

For all interested, Dark Girls is now on Netflix!

Queen
Guest
Queen

Even they knew the beauty and power of our hair and I am so happy more of us are embracing it.

Queen
Guest
Queen

I was literally just having a conversation about this with my mother. The idea that black women are somehow “more jealous” of non black women, and how it’s complete utter BS considering there was actual laws passed to “curb” our beauty & the attention we received. And this is a personal experience, so I hope I do not offend anybody by sharing, but this conversation between my mother and I was brought on how when I entered a restaurant (wearing a fabulous curly wig that looks exactly like my own natural texture, just slightly “bigger” in size) caused a table… Read more »

Queen
Guest
Queen

Oops & Sorry, this is a different “Queen” from the post above mine 🙂 I didn’t notice you had used the same name, or I would’ve picked a different one to avoid confusion lol.

runantellthat
Guest
runantellthat

I hear you sis, let me tell you something,I had big curly hair too, I’d grown my hair out a great deal when I first went natural about 10 years ago. I didn’t get it, when white women just stared at my hair like they had no sense in their head? I kept wondering why the hell are these bishes staring at my ass? I was like can you please stop starting at me!! at one point I practically beat one white chick up! I didn’t know it was my big curly kinky hair!? Thanks for clarifying it. A few… Read more »

Word
Guest
Word

It’s nice that your mood changed from uneasy to proud within seconds. My 19 y/o sister who is also natural went to a resturaunt and said white people just stared. The entire table’s focus silently shiftred toward her and made her uncomfortable. I find that some people’s curiosity can come off as rude. As old as I am, my parents would still scold me if I stared at people like that. Lol

Queen
Guest
Queen

Yeah I tried to remind myself their stares could have also been positive, because you find a lot of times when you’re natural, people will stare, and then often come up to you and compliment you later. They did not, so I don’t know what their reaction was, but I definitely understand why your sister felt uncomfortable! No one wants to be gawked at like a zoo animal, smh. My mom stared the women back down the entire time we were in the restaurant lol just so they’d know how it felt! But I agree, no matter how fascinated I… Read more »

Yayla
Guest
Yayla

Never mind the staring (as if that wasn’t bad enough) I’ve put up for years with the inane, ignorant, patronising and condescending questions that I’ve been asked 10 different ways by so many white colleagues at work about my hair. From the embarrassing to The downright ridiculous. All asked with the same curiosity you might see people have at the zoo when looking at a bizarre species of animal. It speaks volumes of their heritage and where they are coming from as a people. I once completed a job interview, only to have the interviewer ask me (after all the… Read more »

mlank64
Guest
mlank64

I’m going to remember this story.

K10
Guest
K10

Amazing. I never knew this, but we all know who writes the history books…

Anyways, this made me appreciate my natural hair journey even more. Now only if every Black woman and woman of color recognized their beauty..we’d shut the world down!!

Tara G
Guest
Tara G

Thank you so much for the history of Tignon, I have never heard of it until now. Wow! I am sharing this on my Facebook. 🙂

cryssi
Guest
cryssi

This article was so awesome and informative. I can’t wait to share this with other women of various backgrounds that I know. It’s amazing that even when they tried to hide our beauty all they did was make us shine more.

African Empress
Guest
African Empress

http://char.txa.cornell.edu/Griebel.htm
Read this article very interesting.

t.c.
Guest
t.c.

But you see these sell‐out black women agreeing with white women talking about “Oh, it’s just hair! Stop being so mean!”

What an embarrassment because those sistas obviously don’t even know their own history.

Knotty Natural
Guest

It’s not surprising. Many of us new naturals were ignorant at one point or another of our own hair but we’ve also been able to gain knowledge, but we were willing to learn.

My people parish for lack of knowledge”

Jenny
Guest
Jenny

You are right–and I’m guilty of making the “its just hair” comments myself.
Obviously its not just hair. I wont be saying that anymore 😉

straightnochaset
Guest
straightnochaset

Can’t NO ONE wear and style a scarf like Black women can. Amazing but while trying to shut them down over wearing their hair out publically, they couldn’t shut down their creativity. Thanks for sharing!

Lakitha
Guest
Lakitha

Black women exude unlimited beauty. From our fabulous lush hair to our glowng skin. We can wear vibrant makeup colors like no other. We can wear a purple lipstick and own it like no other or a fuschia eyeshadow and command attention like no other.

Ava Monroe
Guest
Ava Monroe

So, Hebrew women are suppose to have their hair wrapped, especially when they pray, but you don’t know anything about that because you fell into the belief that we originated from Africa, and know nothing about your Israeli ancestors.

runantellthat
Guest
runantellthat

We are not Jewish!! Our people were NEVER JEWISH!!! i wish you brain washed morons would stop spreading that lie. The bible is a lie and any black person who believes in being Jewish or original Jews should be ashamed of themselves. where in West Africa were people JEWISH?? We are talking about the slaves and they were Yoruba Princesses and Ashanti Warriors you weirdo. Has nothing to do with being an Israelite. You are the dumb one that doesn’t know your own history. Christianity nor Judaism has nothing to do with West Africans. STUPID. WHite people forced the black… Read more »

Allisen Alexander
Guest
Allisen Alexander

There is truly no need to address ppl as dumb sister. It is you who are completely incorrect, but then that always seemed be the toxicity of US…we magnificent melenated jewels of diversity! No other nation is exactly like US, and all blends come from us. Even Esau(Edomites/Idumaeans) aka:Red/so-called white ppl, come from US: Isaac & Rebekkah.…we’re of course both black. The word Afrika/Africa, comes from ABRAHAM’S children. We JUDAHITES fled, as instructed by The Most High AHAYAH, from the Temple in Jerusalem 70 A.D., the ones who weren’t massacared by the Romans led by Vespasian & Titus because Nero… Read more »

runantellthat
Guest
runantellthat

Jewish people spoke/speak HEBREW nut case. How is WEST Africa even related to the HEBREW speaking language i will never know? People in the Nation of Islam or the Nation of Yahweh nonsense are so retarded.

lis
Guest
lis

Hebrew and Arabic are semitic languages…both of these languages are related to/similar to the semitic languages of Ethiopia.….Ethiopia is the mother of Egyptian civilization.….christ

Tiffany
Guest
Tiffany

You missed the point of the article entirely.…Or are you intentionally being obtuse? THIS is a prime example of why me must research our own history and not just read the stuff that is fed us in the public school system

Tshaddy
Guest
Tshaddy

You’re reaching and know nothing of your african background so you pick and chose a bunch of bullshit to create you identity. Pleas drop your busted ankh.
How are Orthodox (EUROPEAN) jewish traditions part of our heritage?
Israeli ancestor??? Israel didn’t exist until 1945!!

PLEASE

lis
Guest
lis

Interesting.…lol.some people.…..an orthodox Jew or Hasidic told a friend of mine that everyone knows the original Jews in the bible were (shock!!!!!!.….Black. Some of the oldest Christian churches are in Ethiopia.….Christianity left Africa and then came back.…..also..forget it

O
Guest
O

Learn about African history not just about Arabs.

Temple
Guest
Temple

But, no, let’s allow white women to co‐opt OUR natural hair movement, tho…They’ve been through so much sociopolitical struggle in regards to their hair. Almost as much as Black women have gone through!!!

lv
Guest
lv

A M A Z I N G! Black women and our hair are amazing

M'Karyl Gaynor
Guest
M'Karyl Gaynor

Check out the South Carolina Negro Slave Act of 1735 and the South Carolina Grand Jury of 1745. These were sumptuary laws restricting how slaves could dress and what they could wear. The SC Grand Jury convened in 1745 to determine why poor black slave women wear dressing better than poor white women. It was determined that it was because they were either stealing the clothing or sleeping with white men to get it.

liz
Guest
liz

Historically, white people have always searched and searched for ways to “prove” how inferior we were. Acting like a European was just so hard, there was no WAY we could have done it, right? lmao, they make me roll my eyes.

Yayla
Guest
Yayla

Sleeping with white men or stealing”?? Oh dear, that’s bringing flashbacks of tha scene with Patsy from the brilliant film
“12 years a slave” when she returns with That small bar of soap to her jealous, paranoid/lunatic white slave owner. I think the film should be shown in all secondary schools to educate everyone.

it'slashantell
Guest

Black women should corporately come to together to celebrate this…perhaps a special day celebrated once a year where we wear tignons. This would be a great way for the black culture to unite.

ladyg11
Guest
ladyg11

Ooo I really like this idea. Shot make it week!

JerseyGirl
Guest
JerseyGirl

yessss!!!

Sarita
Guest
Sarita

Coming from New Orleans, I am well aware of this all‐telling law. I learned of it as a student at Tulane and was shocked at first. But it was truly an eye‐opener. I am glad your readers get to learn about this history and know that they are revered. Some may deny it and try to demean us because our hair is quite different than theirs. But truth be told, our hair has always been beautiful. It’s our own fault that we gave in to their lies about our hair. At least now we are learning and seeing a change… Read more »

Abbigail
Guest

I minored in African American Studies in undergrad and received my Master’s in Africana Studies in grad school and have never come across this phenomenon prior to reading this article. Thanks for the info! Great article by the way.

kat
Guest
kat

A blogger who includes REFERENCES?! <3

taj-akoben
Guest

they just hate me ‘cause they ain’t me
[img]https://bglh-marketplace.com/wp-content/uploads/2014/07/hotep.jpg[/img]

Aunt Bon
Guest
Aunt Bon

The head scarves were also used to distinguish very fair mixed women(who were considered black even if they were 90% white)from white women. Because God forbid that black woman would have been treated with respect by any white person.

Stacey
Guest
Stacey

Sorry to burst everyone’s bubble but the story presented here is not entirely true. I’m African‐American (not sure if that matters, born and raised in Louisiana, have a master’s degree in History and my focus was Louisiana slavery. The Edict of Good Government consists of 34 edicts ranging from women of color headpieces to trash pick‐up. (I have a copy of the Spanish and English versions). One edict does talk about the tignon but there is no evidence that it was ever enforced and it actually became a fashion trend. All women, not just women of color, wore them and… Read more »

April-joy
Guest
April-joy

The writer stated that it was part(meaning not the entirety) of the law…thank you for sharing there were 33 others(Edict of good punishment) …The fact that it became a trend(according to your data) indicates to me that it was 1. well known to the public 2.backfired as punishment(no-brainer if you have seen the fly headscarf tutorials on youtube…obviously the sistas made keeping the law look really good).…please, you still have not shown where the article was not “entirely true”…is there more??

Stacey
Guest
Stacey

I don’t understand why I am getting negative comments for telling the truth. The name Edict of Good Government proves that it was never a law. All 34 edicts were not geared towards the free people of color and the enslaved like the article suggests. It talked about speeding, trash pick‐up, etc., so stuff pertaining to the city of New Orleans. I think it is great that women are getting excited about it, I was excited about it when I learned about it and I actually do tignon demonstrations at different events. I just wanted to let everyone know the… Read more »

April-joy
Guest
April-joy

Thank you for clarifying the scarf/tignon situation.…The reason I responded was that I was confused as to what the 33 other parts of the edict had to do with the one that the author of the article chose to magnify and shedding light on…the other 33 were not important because,it had nothing to with the subject matter. According to Merriam Webster an edict is a pronouncement having the force of a law…My background is law research‐I also teach reading comprehension…You believe that the entire story should be told because history is your profession…I certainly respect that and am glad for… Read more »

Elle
Guest
Elle

This response is downvoted for simply disagreeing with the article?! If someone gave it a ‘thumbs down’ why not question, disagree or respond to it? So much easier to quickly dismiss it.…

Adeola @ TheManeCaptain
Guest

very informative. but was slave not completely abolished in the late 19th century? meaning the slaves then would look different from the free white population

good luck
Guest
good luck

This was referencing the free blacks I believe if you read the article

Dananana
Guest
Dananana

Also Adeola, slavery may have been abolished in the U.S. 1863, but even after the Civil War, some groups resisted freeing their slaves (namely native slaveholding tribes, such as the Cherokees), and slavery continued until almost 1940 throughout the U.S. under another name: peonage. You can read about that here: https://www.freetheslaves.net/SlaveryinHistory

The site above gives a global timeline on slavery, but it leaves out a lot of important data, and completely ignores how eerily similar U.S. prison system today is to peonage.

JazzWife
Guest

I am excited by this kind of writing and the sharing of this important historical information. Beautiful and thank you!

LindaAdam
Guest
LindaAdam

All this would mean very little to the average black female unless the black man which she craves so much also recognizes that kinky hair can be beautiful. I don’t think there is a problem with curly, especially bigger curls but many are on the fence or downright confused/negative about the kinks.

Treacle
Guest
Treacle

Unfortunately the black man’s issues is a WHOLE other can of worms to open up. They’ve got their own (similar) hang ups and so many have dealt with it in ‘different’ ways to bolster their damaged self‐esteem. From cutting their hair off completely to other behaviours. Sad but true. I don’t care how ANYONE tries to explain or play down the phenomenon of them going off in droves and rejecting black women wholesale, the stat’s speak for themselves about their disdain for black women’s beauty. Consequently we as black women get it from all sides…. and “still (as Maya Angelou… Read more »

folamix
Guest
folamix

This was probably to distinguish the octoroons from the white women.

folamix
Guest
folamix

This was probably to distinguish the octoroons from the white women.

Chandra
Guest

I really enjoyed this article and never heard that we were made to cover our hair for this reason. I’ve aways heard we were made to cover it for a totally different reason. humm. Interesting. This makes sense as to why we seem to get a ton of compliments from the opposite race on our natural hair now. I expected to get more negative comments from them when I first went natural. And the love and appreciation that I received regarding my natural hair was first shown by them, lol. Didn’t see that coming. I Love my natural hair, and… Read more »

lilly Moore
Guest
lilly Moore

Not surprised at the small number of Naturals who responded to this article! An article with some importance! Post about Blue Ivy’s hair corners so many remarks and a vast majority of them are so demeaning! Go figure!

lilly Moore
Guest
lilly Moore

90% White! And how in the world did you come up with your percentage? Furthermore, what is your reference? Post it if you have it because your statement comes off like Bull‐Hit!

Chanda
Guest
Chanda

I read about this at least 5 years ago but wondered if this was just a Louisiana thing or did other states use this “law”. This is why to this day I think that women of color should wear their hair in all it’s glory or at least a fashionable scarf instead of throwing on a do‐rag or bonnet all the time. The tignon law still seemed pretty pointless. Can’t hide a beautiful face.

alice
Guest
alice

I am so glad this article was featured. Brilliant. We need more articles like this.

Ms. Vee
Guest
Ms. Vee

Thank you for this informative artiicle including the references. As one member wrote we definitely need a day to celebrate the tignon.

I’m curious.….what do all the caped crusaders for caucasians have to say now for even suggesting that white women should join our movement??

oh yes…crickets.

nitabug70
Guest
nitabug70

Very interesting, I would love to read more information about the Tigon Law’s, and how it influence other Southern states across the USA.

Carleee
Guest
Carleee

I so appreciate this article. Fantastic writing, and thanks so much for references. We need people like you as leaders and writers in the community. I love your Youtube channel by the way.

J.Nicole
Guest

I’ve heard of this before, but it’s always great to share this info! It’s actually been going on prior to that‐ white women would force enslaved African women on the plantation to cut their hair off to appear less feminine.

The threat of Black women showing their hair is real‐ which to me is one of the reasons why so many (including myself) are about keeping the “natural hair movement” to women of the diaspora, who have to reclaim their beauty in their own texture and hairstyles.

CJ
Guest
CJ

Thank you so much for including some additional reading materials. I would love to read more about this.

Yvette M
Guest

Very interesting. I am going to research and see whether similar laws were passed in my country during colonial times. Because my grandma wears a headscarf all the time, and that’s not part of our culture before colonization. And I do know in most churches here, women were made to cover their hair in scarves up until the early 2000s as a way of being modest, which is definitely another colonial leftover to me

Vee
Guest

This article is really interesting: Thanx for sharing!
I think we have to highlight the origins of some issues about “Afro Hair” such this one, to understand the meaning of some social facts today.
In Europe, they used to sell human hair in order to make huge wings for wealthy people. Nowadays, we are assisting to the same phenomenon with Indians who are offered their hair that are sold and use mainly — as we are believing — to Black people around the world. But this is viewed negatively.

I wrote some article that can interest you! Enjoy
http://africanlinks.net/2012/12/16/le-cheveux-comme-apparat-esthetique/

That History Major
Guest
That History Major

Thank you for your sources. The history major in me appreciated them. A lot of people make claims on the internet that are interesting, and I want to believe them but there are no facts behind them. This topic has those facts.

Kelli Nelson
Guest
Kelli Nelson

This has truly moved me in a way that I cannot express in words. I hope and pray that more women of color will embrace their natural beauty because it is BEAUTIFUL 😀 I am so happy to be a natural. It is a beautiful thing. We as colored women have been taught that we have “bad hair” but our hair is not bad at all it is curly and fragile and gorgeous when it is taken care of correctly
[img]https://bglh-marketplace.com/wp-content/uploads/2014/07/10383582_10152446680875236_2325883032978819726_n-1.jpg[/img]

Word
Guest
Word

I enjoyed this piece! Please share more like it!

Rebecca
Guest
Rebecca

Very interesting piece of history indeed.

Ndilimeke
Guest
Ndilimeke

The sad thing is that we are still covering our hair with weaves, or damaging our with perms to run away from our natural looks as much as possible. The mis‐education that our hair is not beautiful enough has sink so deep in the heads of our children that they want to look as white as possible.

Treacle
Guest
Treacle

I agree Ndilimeke. It is definitely sad when such additions are used to conceal to achieve a perceived social acceptance or because we may feel it’s better looking hair. This sort of thing is often reinforced by the “positive” compliments often received when things like a fake texture weave/wig is worn. It just helps aid the brainwashing/false beliefs we’re encouraged to have about our hair by the mainstream society and it’s propaganda‐spouting mass media. In my opinion I can understand using these things as props to aid protective styling/protect from harsh weather or minimising manipulation. However, and it is a… Read more »

MzNay
Guest
MzNay

I love the fact that BGLH are always concise and straight to the point.

Finn
Guest
Finn

Please include more historical posts. Also, when is the next Hair Icon feature?

Erin
Guest

Completely fascinating! Thank you for sharing this.

P. Cymone
Guest
P. Cymone

And the irony in that is how many whites tend to like the kinks and curls of Black hair today, so much that they are now attempting to create their own “afros” and “dreadlocks”. Our beauty is something they never could, are not, and never will be able to fight or ignore. Makes me even more excited about my recent big chop and more upset that I was so afraid to do it in the first place, lol

anastasia
Guest
anastasia

Congrats on your recent big chop P.Cymone!!

For additional irony, check out the so‐called “Circassian” beauties marketed in the 19th c. as the apex of “Caucasian” beauty primarily due to their pseudo‐afros on ‘white’ bodies.

Mariah
Guest

Wow! I never knew anything about this until now! This makes me even love my hair more than ever, because it is a unique jewel by God!

Miri
Guest
Miri

Hmm… Intriguing. I’ve read similar excerpts about these types of laws. This is an example of a sumptuary law, a type of law that is often used to reinforce a social hierarchy. I’ve also read that they’d shave the heads of new slaves from Africa. Or if the slave women had long, healthy, or elaborately styled hair, the slave masters (or their wives) would cut or shave it off.

HHGeek
Guest
HHGeek

My instant response was also to consider this a form of sumptuary law, with added racism. I don’t know how much sumptuary laws were generally implemented in the ‘new’ worlds by colonising powers, do you? I’d be interested to know.

Victoria Owl
Guest
Victoria Owl

This is some powerful information!!!! Every black woman needs to know this. One of the best articles on here!

Miri
Guest
Miri

Hm… intriguing. I’ve also read that they’d shave the heads of new slaves from Africa. Or if the slave women had long, healthy, or elaborately styled hair, the slave masters (or their wives) would cut or shave it off.

anastasia
Guest
anastasia

I’ve read of the shaving of heads too.

If my recall is correct, the practice of shaving heads was to erase ethnic‐identity/dehumanize (and possibly an attempt to hinder uprisings and revolts…?? Revolts and uprisings happened anyway hence the severe punishment and dehumanizing laws), as hairstyles were often associated w/ community identity and one’s status within said community (tribe), and of course as you’ve implied, envy and jealousy on the part of the wives.

Y’all this ish is deeply rooted.

anastasia
Guest
anastasia

Also, notice the Victorian bustle was in part an attempt to imitate the bodily proportions of Saartjie Baartman aka “The Hottentot Venus”. Ms. Baartman inhabited multiple domains of the white gaze as both “exotic” and sexually appealing, as well as being supposed evidence of the superiority of the “white” race. Ms. Baartman’s skeletal remains and genitals were displayed in France (I believe) until the 1970s and were recently returned to South Africa via the efforts of Nelson Mandela. The genitalia fascination is another gruesome practice noted throughout slave‐ holding states/nations. It was quite common to cut pregnant or non‐pregnant wombs,… Read more »

Yayla
Guest
Yayla

Shocking n sickening. Well said though anastasia. Thank you for highlighting those points.

Yayla
Guest
Yayla

… I meant to add (when referring to black men’s developed fashions in the last few decades) that I was referring to the trend for so many young black men and older to shave their heads, some almost all completely removing their own hair. For some it was a great solution to male pattern baldness. But note, the trend was taken up on a huge scale by YOUNG black men from teenage years upwards in age. Shaving their heads removed any indication of their hair type or any indication of Afro hair type for some(!)

Yayla
Guest
Yayla

Do you think perhaps black men’s developed fashion (in the last few decades) and their migration towards non‐black women is perhaps an indication of their wanting (subconsciously of course) to reject their ethnic identity. Some explain it away as just a social trend, or a reflection of our ‘happy melting pot’ modern day society that so many have chosen white/or other non‐black women. I suggest perhaps it’s a reflection of how they are coping with white societie’s rejection and denigration of all peoples black. Sadly, I know of too many black men who seem to feel they’ve upped their status… Read more »

Dananana
Guest
Dananana

To be fair, have you noticed that Black women (myself included) have stopped waiting around on Black men to notice us? I won’t lie, there are parts of me that are conflicted about marrying a White man. But for me, this is true love, real love, and in the end, his color doesn’t really matter; he’s my perfect other half. I’m not giving that up because society thinks I should only pursue Black men, especially when they (in general, I have seriously dated one Black man and non‐seriously dated a few others in the past) never paid me half a… Read more »

Jay
Guest
Jay

Also at this time in Louisiana the mulatto population was so large and so light that they had trouble identifying black women. This system was a way to make identifying the races easier.

Miri
Guest
Miri

Oops! I meant to make one post, but it didn’t show at first, so I made another. And they both showed. Disregard the shorter one.

TWA4now
Guest
TWA4now

I never heard of these until today! We are all beautiful women! Now, Let’s let the world catch up to that fact!

Malika
Guest
Malika

Loved this article!

CurlyQ53
Guest
CurlyQ53

If I recall everything I can from 18th century fashion, wasn’t really big, voluminous hair the “in” thing? And our hair does that naturally, beautifully, right?

Oh. Yeah.

So I can see how certain folks tried to diminish us by squashing our crowns. Welp, they tried it! *cackling*

Carla
Guest
Carla

History is sooo interesting. I honestly believe that if more if us knew our history we would have a little more pride about our hair, our complexion, and our ancestry. Unfortunately, it’s not really what we’re taught (in school), so how would we expect to know the history of our people outside of slavery? Thank you BGLH for posting articles like this. This is the type of space that we need to learn more about ourselves and work on ourselves as women of color.

trackback

[…] and otherwise concerning. As far back as the early 1800s, Black women in the United States were legally mandated to cover and obscure their natural hair so as not to threaten “social […]

Tisha
Guest
Tisha

When I first saw the the title I thought “I don’t want to read this because I’m going to get angry. But it’s our history so I will.” But instead I AM :D!!!! Hahahaha they turned it around and made it into a good thing with a little ingenuity!!! Now the law was still so wrong but that it backfired makes me really, really, really >:)Happy.

youngin girl
Guest
youngin girl

This is interesting. This is more things to be proud of. Thanks for keeping me updated and informed. I’m 18 and I kinda wish I would have known about this when I was 16. Maybe hair history will be taught in school or you can be the next teacher to start it. Get your degree, make some changes.

Caitlin H.
Guest
Caitlin H.

Reading articles such as the one above does nothing but fill me with pride in my ethnicity. It’s so empowering to know that our beauty can radiate in whatever turmoil we may be facing. If only we all knew our worth and beauty.

Erica
Guest
Erica

Can we say Black women when we’re talking about Black women as opposed to women of color?

Women of color refers to ALL non‐white women. Native women didn’t have to cover their hair. Asian and Hispanic women didn’t have to cover their hair.

Only Black women. That matters.

Great piece of history none the less.

Courtney
Guest
Courtney

I’d like to respectfully disagree. In Louisiana at that time, any nonwhite person could be considered black, and oft times were, but not all of the time. Plus it matters that Louisiana had and still has a large mixed race population which could be black, or native, or other people of color. Let’s be honest…if many nonwhite people receive the same treatment, regardless of their color.

flouncingtart
Guest
flouncingtart

I disagree that “many people of colour receive the same treatment.” They do get unfair treatment, but it’s not the same. Anti‐blackness exists and is pretty rampant in non‐black communities of colour.

Kudos
Guest
Kudos

Courtney please don’t do that. Non white people in Louisiana were not considered black, not most of the time, not some times. No one get treated like Blacks. Not then and not now. Don’t hijack a beautiful moment from black women by applying it to everybody. This article specifically speaks of black women and we all know the people who represents that.

Rach
Guest
Rach

Actually, in LA there were racial classifications because there were so many mixed race people! Octaroon (one eighth black) quadroon (1/4 black), Mulato etc were created during this time. Yes, lighter skinned people of color were treated “better”, but most of these people (no matter how mixed or not) were all slaves. When you’re on the auction block everyone is seen as cattle. Remember the one drop rule. This was white people’s way of controlling the fragile slavery system. All of it was socially created!

Kudos
Guest
Kudos

Rach in LA there weren’t many mixed people. Actually the term Mulatto in the 18th century were a name given to the indigenous populations. It did not represent mixed black/white as it does today. There weren’t too many lighter skin people of color then and those who were actually light skinned with clear differing phenotype did not live among black people. They were either absorb into the dominant white population or kept in their own communities. Funny how people speak of the one drop rule when it was a rule coined for biracials. One drop wasn’t a term for any… Read more »

Ikwiataic2D
Guest
Ikwiataic2D

Hope you read my response to you in a previous post but you are definitely INCORRECT about the term Mulatto.

lisa
Guest
lisa

Actually kudos, the one drop rule stems from plessy vs ferguson when a man who was a quadroon or just one of his great grand parents was black, he was deemed black as well. Thus any drop of colored/brown/black blood you were black. This continuted to be true until the civil rights era. Many blacks decided to intergrate and to keep blacks at the bottom it is now based on color. It used to be based on ancestry. If anyone in your blood line had anyone from africa or a shade of brown skin you were colore. Many of the… Read more »

Roshay
Guest
Roshay

Courtney, there is no such thing as mixed race. Aren’t we talking abouts humans? What other race is there? …Nevermind, bye!

Adía
Guest
Adía

When people refer to race as a social construct they are talking about different ethnicity. Most people understand this

Roshay
Guest
Roshay

Let’s see, another word that most understand …DUH! I’m aware, and don’t care. I don’t go along with what MOST believe, in order to get along. There is only one RACE; HUMAN.

flouncingtart
Guest
flouncingtart

I think they phrased it this way to include women who have black ancestry, but identify as mixed race or simply Latin@ (in Brazil for example, there are a lot of different categories of identification).

I do think that people should specify women of African descent though, if the issue is specific to women of Afro descent.

Angela James
Guest
Angela James

The law was specifically written “women of color”, so to state otherwise would impose a particular meaning, according to todays understanding. Researchers point out that often Native men and women (mixed with African or not), were often listed in this fashion in Louisiana as well as in Georgia, the Carolinas and a few other states.

Kudos
Guest
Kudos

Angela James, I don’t know how old you posters are, but the writer made a mistake for trying to be impartial when she used the term “Women of Color” not knowing that in the 18th, 19th, and early 20th century “People‐of‐Color” was a term given to black people. It did not represent a melting pot or an all inclusive nonwhite group. Native Americans were coined mulatto. Blacks were coined people‐of‐color. That is the biggest mistake the writer made. Trying to be impartial yet not understanding the terms used. If you speaking of the 18th century then people‐of‐color would be black… Read more »

Angel
Guest
Angel

Actually that is not true. Mulatto did not just apply to Native Americans. Census records going back to the mid to late 1800’s would clarify that right out the bat.

Back in the days of the conquistodors, mulatto was a term to refer to one who was *anything* mixed with black, but even then that ranged from area to area in middle and latin america. Those who were Native American and mixed with black, or black mixed with white, both were coined mulatto. Meanwhile, Native American + white=mestizo.

Kudos
Guest
Kudos

Angela, I’m not talking about Latin America. Here in the United States of America the term mulatto was a term of the Native Americans and the same applied to the indigenous populations in the Caribbean. Mulatto being used to indicate a biracial of black and white parentage is a new late 20th century phenomenon. Native American were mulatto and black people were colored. If you didn’t know that just say you didn’t. The writer of the article made a huge mistake with that one.

Ikwiataic2D
Guest
Ikwiataic2D

I know my post is much later than the article but I had to respond to those who believe Mulatto was ascribed to Native Americans only. Not so. My great‐great‐great‐great grandfather was a Mulatto slave back in the late 1700’s/early 1800’s. I found his slave registry/record and census report. He was a mixed‐Black/African.

Najah
Guest
Najah

Well now I’m inspired next week be ridiculously fancy afro for me!! #wegonbestylinyall

RedPaperLantern
Guest
RedPaperLantern

Cassandre this piecet was so very interesting!I really enjoyed reading this post and I wanted to say “Thank You” for posting the additional readings and reference material. Keep up the great work!

Apostle Rubie James
Guest

Great research! Thank you for the information!

xyzebra
Guest
xyzebra

Thank you for this fascinating bit of history and for including citations!

trackback

[…] otherwise concerning. As far back as the early 1800s, Black women in the United States were legally mandated to cover and obscure their natural hair so as not to threaten “social […]

Stephanie
Guest
Stephanie

The laws were also created to distinguish white women from the growing population of quadroons, octoroons and mulattoes (their words, not mine) who looked white but were technically black. They were attracting the attention of white men who were unaware that they were *ahem* not of pure blood. To create a distinction (and to humiliate, as the article noted) ALL women of color (not just blacks) were forced to wear scarves that covered their hair and signified their social‐status.

Kudos
Guest
Kudos

Stephanie it’s such bull. There weren’t any growing population of so‐called quadroons, octoroons, mulattoes that needed to be distinguished from whites. Their numbers were practically null compare to whites. So‐called quadroons or octoroons were just a white people if any existed. Mulatto were indigenous/native American. Mulatto wasn’t a term used for biracial as it is used today for biracial. Calling a biracial a mulatto came about in the late 20th century. It certainly represented Native Americans in the 18th century.

lisa
Guest
lisa

Hun, kudos, you are highly incorrect about your history. Just cause you were light skin didnt mean you absorded into the white community. If ppl knew you had any non european blood you were treated as such. It is very likely that quadroons octoroons and everything else needed to be pointed out. You can have a dark brown father and your skin be pale. I.e you can be half black and look white. Imagine if that child grows up and has a child with a full white person, might that child also have pale skin? Thus we have quadroons who… Read more »

Sharee
Guest
Sharee

I think you missed the point and your negative comment has no place here on such an inspiring and credible article.

She was simply informing us on the regulations places on our ancestors’ oppressors and showcasing the ingenuitive spirit of our people.

This should fill you with pride, Queen. Open the ears to your heart.

Kudos
Guest
Kudos

Sharee you missed the point. I read the article and that’s why I disagree. I do not have to jump on the bandwagon and cry and say ‘this article made me so proud. Thanks for the hisotry’ like all of you are doing. I didn’t miss any point in this article and I’m not obligated to take it positively. The article was not informing us on the regulations places on our ancestors’ oppressors and showcasing the ingenuity spirit of our people. You really didn’t read the article; or you stopped reading when you came across something that was positively written… Read more »

Beautiful Brown
Guest
Beautiful Brown

@Kudos — love you sis!!! I saw that too.

Jay
Guest

I partly agree and disagree, I believe that headwraps have been part of our culture prior to slavery but the frequency of headwrap wearing may have increased during the 18th century. Look at the moors, they also wore headwraps/turbans and this was prior to slavery.

flouncingtart
Guest
flouncingtart

I’m not sure I understand this comment. Whether headwraps were part of black culture, when slaves were brought over, much of their culture was erased. Black people were forced to assimilate and forget ethnicities and things that distinguished their cultures. They were forced to wear certain types of clothing, wear their hair a certain way etc. White people using something that was common in African culture anyway in order to distinguish who was “black” and who wasn’t, doesn’t change the fact that this happened in 18th century Louisiana. It just shows the ignorance of these people to mandate something that… Read more »

Kudos
Guest
Kudos

Flouncingtart. Black people did not lose all of themselves. Black people who believe that are the ones that will believe any fable about black culture simply because they believe we lost it all. Everything that black people do did not come from the force or teachings of whites. Some things can’t be explained away. Somethings are just soulful. Black people throughout slavery wore their hair the same way their ancestors did, either in braids or wrapped. We still do this to this day. Some things are virtually impossible to lose, as it is passed down through the cerebrum brain and… Read more »

Candi
Guest
Candi

I agree. There are many teachings that were passed down from our ancestors. I am from the Caribbean (St Lucia) and even our creole has a mixture of some of the African languages. A lot of our music and story telling was passed down from our ancestors. We are a strong, dedicated and intelligent ‘race’ thanks to our ancestors. We were, and still are, able to persevere throughout all the turmoil, racism, hardship and poverty that we have had to endure. Our ancestors gave us this hope and strength to carry on. Who knew that a female slave (Harriet Tubman)… Read more »

brideoffrankenstien
Guest
brideoffrankenstien

Cultural traditions don’t get totally erased though, you will still see sprinkles of culture even in today’s black Americans. These behaviours and fashion trends cannot be totally erased. Cultur style and fashion tendds to merely evolve and blend in with other dominant cultures,not to mention will manifest and change into more Westernized versions of it’s former self. So no nothing gets totally erased. Even in Puerto Rico and DOminican Republic not to mention in Brazil, some of the Spanish language have a mixture of Nigerian words and Southern European or more “Proper” Spanish all mixed up together. South Eastern Nigeria… Read more »

Nikkyia
Guest
Nikkyia

Only people that wore head wraps that are black or of color were often high in status. So most were wearing them as a fashion statement and a symbol of status pre‐slavery. Which means the only thing this could’ve done was increase their status. How did white people not realize that? Lol.

brideoffrankenstien
Guest
brideoffrankenstien

Exactly! Head wrapping/crowning were reserved for ladies and men of higher status in Africa and the Europeans AND Arabs knew that!! . The problem with many African Americans is that they don’t do their own research, they rather have others do the thinking for them. While this article does hold some truth, African women still were used to wearing these fancy bejeweled head wrappings for beauty and because the culture hand’t totally been erased! Black people lost much, but NOT everything.
You can go to Africa and see that some of the African privileged and wealthy wear these ensembles.
[img]https://bglh-marketplace.com/wp-content/uploads/2014/07/tumblr_n386kn5C001sif5r3o1_500.jpg[/img]

Renee
Guest
Renee

References be damned huh?

trackback

[…] Black Women Hair History & Politics […]

lottie b!
Guest

I’m shooting this at KUDOS comment. “Anything that’s in black people’s favor they will believe. This fable masquerading as history isn’t true. Black people don’t wear head wraps because whites told so. We get it from the culture of our ancestors. I knew black people would believe this and run away with it. So sheepish and gullible.” I smell a RAT in our mist. White folks have FOREVER recorded their history to bring GLORY to themselves, so tell me why is it that when black people learn some hidden history about themselves there is ALWAYS someone with a hidden agenda… Read more »

Ahsisoh
Guest
Ahsisoh

Jah alone a christian, so they want us to think stupid…

InnaLeigh
Guest

Mmmm, love this info! Feathers and jewels, sounds fabulous!
Wish there were pictures of these vintage hairstyles!

Mia
Guest

I love this. Thanks so much for sharing. They’ve tried for centuries to hold us down because they are jealous of our beauty, strength, etc, etc. I love my natural hair and rock it very proud. Funny enough, the most compliments I get about it is from white women. I. Love. It.

minnie mouse
Guest
minnie mouse

Great post! For doubters:http://www.pbs.org/wnet/slavery/experience/gender/feature6.html
And for those who would prefer they say black instead of nonwhite,nonwhite is more inclusive. Especially if you are talking about Louisiana, which is exceptionally diverse.I should know, half of my family is from baton rouge and at first glance you wouldn’t know what the heck “race” I am.

Janaye
Guest

I rather enjoyed reading this article, it was enlightening. Also, I would appreciate it if someone would support my cause. Just click on the link. Don’t worry, it isn’t spam! Thanks! »> http://www.gofundme.com/bs4w14 «<

The more eyes that see it, the better!

Monica
Guest
Monica

I’m a black woman, when I wear makeup in public I notice that white women give me evil stares like I’m not suppose to be doing that.
I was just thinking about this the other day. The way other women react to it, it’s like they want me to minimize my beauty to make them feel beautiful. This article is very interesting. Now I have words for this thing that has been bothering me while I wear makeup, other women especially non‐black get very catty with me. It’s strange.

Dejah
Guest
Dejah

That’s just WEIRD all around (and I’m white).

Q
Guest
Q

Some women of color/black women don’t wear their own hair they are wearing other people’s hair (weave)

Telly
Guest

Yes dear, we know what weave is. And FYI, it’s only ‘someone else’s hair’ when human hair is used. Otherwise, it’ll be synthetic, i.e. has never belonged to anyone other than the person who bought it, much like the boob, lip and butt implants favored by women of most other races these days.

Tiggy
Guest
Tiggy

Caucasian women started the weave/wig trends way before the B.C. / A.D. changeover. Roman matrons had wigs and weaves, European royalty did, too, and black women are the latest. Big deal.

Deborah
Guest
Deborah

Thank for this story, I had no idea. I wore a multi‐colored scarf over my locks tied to the side and was compared to a pirate by a coworker instead of her just saying I looked nice. Jealousy and envy nothing but!

S Ruth J
Guest
S Ruth J

How did such a ontributing article turn into a battle about Creoles and Africans with Native American ancestry and their treatment? (My family consists of both in Louisiana). Great article! Please share more!

Stacey
Guest

I really enjoyed reading this Blog post there was truth in every word.

Cynimon
Guest
Cynimon

It really doesn’t suprise me that a topic this positive and rich in culture would be torn apart and used to insight an argument BTW our own ppl. Why? Why can’t we maybe correct the mis‐perception in a non‐combative way, and “enlighten” one another instead of allowing things to get so confrontational sometimes. We should do better. As a woman of color.…Caribbean decent, I found this article most interesting. Thanks so much for sharing. But in my own fashion, I never take anything for face value. I like to research those things that I hear to find the ounce of… Read more »

Mignon
Guest
Mignon

All I can say is wow!.…very interesting.

DaiShanell
Guest
DaiShanell

I came across this while researching for my undergrad thesis on the mulatto/quadroon women of French New Orleans. It’s fascinating.

sherrybaby
Guest
sherrybaby

I remember learning about this. Since history tends to repeat itself, my takeaway was to be prepared for some kind of b.s. pushback against natural hair from the powers that be. *cough, cough — the recent military ban on natural hairstyles.

Shawanda
Guest
Shawanda

Hi to all I just like to say I am natural and have been since March 1, 2009 I love everything about my natural hair people always tell me how they just love my hair and how I do this and that I love telling what and how I do but I also tell them that it all depend on your tex of hair but I share all that I know about taking care of it because it is a job but I love it

Quentin du Plooy
Guest
Quentin du Plooy

Growing up in Colonial/Apartheid South Africa I remember many domestic dramas concerning maids who didn’t cover their hair..

Becca
Guest
Becca

Interesting read!!

Torie
Guest
Torie

Wow, I was born and bred in South Louisiana and never knew this! Doesn’t surprise me, though. @Sherrybaby…I never realized the military has placed a ban on natural hair. This is very ridiculous and should be illegal! How are they gonna be like, “Your unit is being deployed next month, and, by the way, it’s time for your touch‐up”!! Crazy…

Niki
Guest
Niki

Anotherreason for the scarves was to distinguish black (creole) women from white. Some creoles were passé blanc and the scarves let people know they were women of color.

Wanda
Guest
Wanda

I always heard my Creole elders talk about tons but didn’t know that there was such a law. I used to listen closely to them speaking Creole but could never pick up on most of what they were saying. Natural hair is so beautiful to me. I’m trying it also but I’m only a year into my journey. I have a ways to go. Can’t wait. My black is beautiful no matter what u try to say or do to me.

Julia Johnson
Guest
Julia Johnson

I would just like to say speaking on the Royal hebrew remnant woman being burnt by God in judea hair completly synged color changed to her enemy neighbors identity across the river, and having no aid on repair, or structure on how to do her hair not knowing Identity black women being completely the distant from herself her land judeah Jerusalem, burnt by God and thrown to the North to be a slave, I dont think she really cared, if anything she was blinded by God so she couldnt see, Its bothering me that this knowledge is through the holy… Read more »

Wanda
Guest
Wanda

I always heard my Creole elders talk about tiyons but didn’t know that there was such a law. I used to listen closely to them speaking Creole but could never pick up on most of what they were saying. Natural hair is so beautiful to me. I’m trying it also but I’m only a year into my journey. I have a ways to go. Can’t wait. My black is beautiful no matter what u try to say or do to me.

SP
Guest
SP

You should look up the work of visual artist Firelei Baez. She did an entire body of work based on tignon tradition that’s amazing.

sarah
Guest
sarah

i dont know how true this is but considering slaves come from west africa, west africans wear head ties in elaborate ways all the time.in southern africa as well, its not because of any law passed. its just part of dressing. my assumption is they might have carried on the head tie when they were in america.so i dont know how far true this law is.

ches
Guest
ches

I think that has more to do with religion. It’s custom to wear elaborate head wraps and scarfs to church and other events of a high standard like weddings. It’s derived from the tradition of Islam and Christian beliefs that people with hair should cover it before God.. With an African twist 😉

San
Guest
San

It has nothing to do with religion! We as africans had spiritual religion.

dandilyonz cassandra
Guest
dandilyonz cassandra

One of the main aims of slavery was to disconnect Africans from their identity. That is anything representing their culture was banned, how they dressed, spoke, danced and practiced religion. Their religious practices were deemed pagan and Christianity was forced on them so no this was not in anyway a means of allowing these women to practice anything of African culture. Plus by the time slavery was abolished in America, the slaves were far removed from any overt connections to their African ancestry. So their ability to tie their headwraps elaborately was more of a retention thus a more covert,… Read more »

robinjfr
Guest
robinjfr

My great‐grandmother once told me of a similar “law” (don’t know whether it was a local ordinance, state law, or “unoficial” law) in Mississippi which she called “The Bandana Law.” Her explanation for it was so that very light skinned women such as herself, would not be mistaken for white, and thus save embarassment of shopkeepers and the like who may have addressed these women as “ma’am” instead of “girl, auntie” or their first names.

HistorianInHeels
Guest
HistorianInHeels

While looking for ordinances pertaining to free and enslaved Blacks in South Carolina prior to 1860, I learned that it was illegal for enslaved Black males to dress finer that their white masters. These men, regardless of their status, knew how to adorned their bodies even with limited resources.

HistorianInHeels
Guest
HistorianInHeels

While looking for ordinances pertaining to free and enslaved Blacks in South Carolina prior to 1860, I learned that it was illegal for enslaved Black males to dress finer that their white masters. These men, regardless of their status, knew how to adorn their bodies even with limited resources.

Sean
Guest
Sean

Because they seduced beige‐colored men to sleep HAHAHAHAHAHAHA

My race gets so damn dumb on this. I mean really guys? Banning black women from leaving the hair down(the most beutiful thing in a woman) because your beige(white) wife went jealous?

missmack
Guest
missmack

Because women’s demands were all fulfilled back then and men took orders from bossy white women. lol

MiMi
Guest
MiMi

I think there was a lot of tension between black women and white women back then… Remember, in Brazil, around this time, whites introduced racial whitening. Racial whitening was a genocide tactic used on blacks all through out latin america and the caribbean(In even australia on the native Australian people.) that promoted racial mixing, preaching that it was because whites transcended the idea of their own racial superiority to blacks, when in actuality it was to lower the population of “undesirables” in a country. How racial whitening worked, is they would promote mixing between white men and non white women.… Read more »

Elza
Guest
Elza

I may be reading too much into this, but isn’t this the equivalent of or similar to the yellow badges that Jews were forced to wear? Because the tigon marked them out and ‘limited them’ in their rights and so did the badge?

Sorry I dont think that makes much sense. Interesting article.

Rottie Mom
Guest
Rottie Mom

No, you are not reading too much into this. For many women of “color” looked white or Spanish so this made it easy to distinguish the slaves.

S. Han
Guest
S. Han

Wow! This is fascinating. I did a study on women and hair and what you say really illustrates how expressive and powerful hair can be, and how it’s often associated with women’s sexuality in western culture. Try to tame the power and sexuality of women of color, did they? I love that they found a way to express themselves regardless! Ha ha!

To thine own self be true
Guest
To thine own self be true

I thought the law was to make it illegal for women of color to wear hats (which were always worn in public) -the only head covering that women of color could legally wear were tignons.

Candie
Guest
Candie

that is also true. They also were not allowed to wear any type of jewelry or silk dresses outside of their homes. Basically they were expected to look like bums to make the white women feel better.

Qduncan
Guest
Qduncan

I read that this done not to hide beauty or hairstyles but to easily distinguish between “octoroons” and “quadrons” who could easily pass for white women, the headdresses served to let whites know who was black and who was white…

Dada Mkenya
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Dada Mkenya

There’s a clear contrast even without the head scarf.

Torie Amza
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Torie Amza

I agree. Although genes work out kinda funny sometimes and you can find some individuals with Black/other parentage that don’t appear Black, this is rare. Halle Berry’s baby is quadroon and I wouldn’t say that say that she’d be confused for a White kid. But you know what, I think White ppl have a tough time making a distinction bc I live in an area highly concentrated with mulattos and my mom, who is clearly Black, told me of a time when a White man referred to her as “that ni@@er” behind her back to her co worker, who is… Read more »

MiMi
Guest
MiMi

WE can tell when a paler skin black person is black… WHITE people who stereotype the way that all blacks are “suppose” to look, can’t tell the difference between their own people and people who can pass for white. This girl with two black parents, came out paler. The has a great, great, great, great, GREAT white ancestor. She said that in the comment section of her YouTube video when people claimed she was biracial. “No, both of my parents are African american, there are pictures in the video) The video is entitled “How do Koreans react when they discover… Read more »

Jija Bulaste
Guest
Jija Bulaste

My niece is a quadroon (to use the antiquated terminology) but has blonde hair and blue eyes. I think this was the reason for tignon in the old days‐as a mark of blackness regardless of skin color .Great discussion on here!

Sarah
Guest
Sarah

the headdresses served to let whites know who was black and who was white” for some reason this makes me happy. Shows how much the women have in common they could not tell the difference without a label identifier.

Dubz
Guest
Dubz

Interesting information… I was always suspect of the heritage of Marie Therese Chouteau (pictured below), the common‐law wife of Pierre Laclède and mother of René Auguste Chouteau, Jr the supposed “founders” of St Louis, Missouri. She was a New Orleans Creole born supposedly of a French father and a Spanish mother. I always believed she was, as defined in the language of that time, either a quadroon or Octoroon.

Jija Bulaste
Guest
Jija Bulaste

I have wondered the same thing based on this portrait. You have a sharp eye for history . (I teach it?)

Beautiful Brown
Guest
Beautiful Brown

That would make sense using today’s logic but no quadrron or octorron at THAT time would have been considered white or passable for white. The Irish, Italians, Greeks and Portugese for example were not even considered white at that time.

missmack
Guest
missmack

Really most things that happened to women in general in the 1800’s were awful. What about today.

Andrea Lewis
Guest
Andrea Lewis

According to my mother, when she was growing up, in the South, it was illegal for BW to wear short pants, but no one else. That’s some serious insecurity. SMH.

CAL Pittman
Guest
CAL Pittman

In middle school, I wasn’t allow to wear shorts! They always sent me to the principal’s office. My mother said it was because I had a big black butt and the other girls didn’t (it was a small school). I didn’t really believe that was the case till I got older! ;D

Andrea Lewis
Guest
Andrea Lewis

You’re mother was likely correct.

hennessey15
Guest
hennessey15

Black women just do not realize that their beauty if envied so that they make negative comments to cover up their jealousy. Black women hair and bodies rock!!

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[…] policed, both socially and legislatively, since before the inception of the United States. From the Tignon laws of the Creole South requiring black women to cover their glorious hair because it threatened white […]

Ebony
Guest
Ebony

When i was a kid, I developed very fast, I had large breasts for an 11 year old. I had to wear big clothes so the white girls wouldn’t feel insecure.

Singularity Community
Guest
Singularity Community

For positive information on black history and achievements
https://www.facebook.com/groups/singularity.community/

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[…] 2014. Shocking History. Available: on: http://bglh-marketplace.com/2014/07/shocking-history-why-women-of-color-in-the-1800s-were-banned-fr… [Accessed 3 March […]

mariah alexis
Guest
mariah alexis

This was a great article. If only i could wear my head wraps to school 🙁

Lisa
Guest
Lisa

Consider addressing your school about that matter. You could organize a student movement involving teachers and historical information. This would be a great way to bring awareness to the issue and start a conversation amongst your peers. You can make a difference.

Aerabella
Guest
Aerabella

I remember this being a trend, but wasn’t really aware it was a rule to cover their hair. I just assumed it was easier maintenance. My one question though is what did their hair look like before when they were decorating it in elaborate fashions? Was it, “wow, such intricate elegance” or more “wow, is that an animal on your head?” because it makes a difference. French women had a habit of overdoing their hair back in the Rococo era. Huge wigs with horse hair and wooden birds and other random crap. I would understand a dress code against that.

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[…] Turbans, Voodoo, & Tignon Laws in Louisiana Why Women of Color Were Banned from Wearing Their Hair In Public Tignon of Colonial Louisiana Tignon Laws (Prezi […]

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[…]  Source […]

Ua1803
Guest
Ua1803

1800’s and 18th century are not the same thing.

big pop
Guest
big pop

always jealous of us lol take it as a compliment sistas

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[…] ordered to cover their hair in public?” asks Cassandre Beccai (Check out her entire piece here : http://bglh-marketplace.com/2014/07/shocking-history-why-women-of-color-in-the-1800s-were-banned-fr&#8230😉 she found a “law” of sorts that demanded women of colour in Louisiana to cover their hair with […]

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[…] Shocking History: Why Women of Color in the 1800s Were Banned From Wearing Their Hair in Public […]

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[…] Bey donning a Badu‐like headwrap with a tangle in a front framing her pleasing face. Centuries ago, black American women were banned from wearing their hair out in public. So, many wore their hair in colorful Tignons or wraps to […]

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[…] Bey donning a Badu‐like headwrap with a tangle in a front framing her pleasing face. Centuries ago, black American women were banned from wearing their hair out in public. So, many wore their hair in colorful Tignons or wraps to […]

trackback

[…] Bey donning a Badu‐like headwrap with a tangle in a front framing her pleasing face. Centuries ago, black American women were banned from wearing their hair out in public. So, many wore their hair in colorful Tignons or wraps to […]

trackback

[…] ordered to cover their hair in public?” asks Cassandre Beccai (Check out her entire piece here : http://bglh-marketplace.com/2014/07/shocking-history-why-women-of-color-in-the-1800s-were-banned-fr&#8230😉 she found a “law” of sorts that demanded women of colour in Louisiana to cover their hair with […]

naynay
Guest
naynay

This goes to show now why the media and all these reports and surveys always define Black women as unattractive, undatable, unmarriageable, and the notion that White women are the most beautiful in the world in order to demean Black women. Well Black women, now you know that you are very beautiful, and your beauty has been noticed even during Slavery times in this country. Why did you think that those White men had to have Black women even if it took force because they desired them! That is just propaganda to keep Black women down!

yolanda
Guest
yolanda

It really is because seeing this article confirms what ive always believed… Thry see who we are . they know we are beautiful and string. Thats why they must brainwash others to not see it… Smh..

dante williams
Guest
dante williams

I had no idea but I’m not surprised either. It seems like it was such another world back then, but then I see black women still being shamed into wearing long wigs, extensions and weaves, and natural hair being skewered, even among other black women. I hope the more people see what happened back then that it will change their way of thinking about hair and the concept of beauty.

Marisol
Guest
Marisol

It seems like it was such another world back then”
____________________________________________
No love, it’s the same world, different time. Nothing changed. It’s just orchestrated differently. Don’t believe the hype

dante williams
Guest
dante williams

I said ‘it seems,’ not ‘it was.’

Granny Nuggs
Guest
Granny Nuggs

Jewels and feathers in their hair? I bet some of them were absolutely gorgeous. I hope the style makes a resurgence.

Jennifer Williams
Guest
Jennifer Williams

As a white woman, with baby‐fine, strawberry blonde hair (I am of Irish and German decent), I am often envious of women of color. I love the elaborate hairstyles they pull off with such beauty and grace. I know there are many of them who have extensions…but still! I honestly think white women can look ridiculous with the same extensions…mant times they will overdo it and it juat doesn’t work. I have asked many women of color how they acheive and maintain their styles. I sometimes wonder if I sound rude, but I’m just curious. To all ladies of color…from… Read more »

Long Ben Avery
Guest
Long Ben Avery

And a jealous, bald old white guy!

Marisol
Guest
Marisol

Jennifer, this might surprise you, but most of the natural hairstyles that you see are just that…Natural. When you see hair piled on top of hair then that’s when you know you’re dealing with extensions. Black hair will grow just as long or longer than your hair when it’s kept natural and free of all the bullshit chemicals that are sometimes used…

Ina Plassa-travis
Guest
Ina Plassa-travis

there’s not a lot of documentation besides the idea of braided crowns — the artists who were willing to work with the Free Blacks and the Quadroon community also had to deal with the jealousy guarded social lines…but it’s interesting that you would understand a dress code against Baroque hairstyles, even if they were only enforced upon one group. (Feast of All Saints is lovingly researched, if you can deal with Anne Rice)

Carol Schell
Guest
Carol Schell

Actually, the law goes further back in time and was reinstated by the Spanish governor of New Orleans. Notice it was French and Spanish governments who instituted the orders.: http://www.frenchcreoles.com/ArtTheater/tignon/origins%20of%20tignon.htm Not long after the founding of New Orleans in 1718, the French colonists introduced a slave law (the 1724 Code Noir) which forced newly arrived Africans into a lifetime of servitude. By 1786, the increasing assertiveness of black New Orleanians and the growing numbers of free blacks alarmed Spanish officials. The then Spanish Governor attempted to restrict black mobility by suppressing free black assemblies and banning concubinage. He prohibited slaves… Read more »

Priscilla Buckson
Guest
Priscilla Buckson

The law, according to my grandmother, was started so the white people would be able to tell the light skinned creole octoroons and quadroons from white women. Many of these mixed women were beautiful beyond belief and attracted white men to contract for them during the quadroons balls. The desire to “put them in their place” came as a result of too many instances of mistaken idenity.

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[…] white women would often hack off the hair of their enslaved female servants because it supposedly “confused white men” […]

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[…] white women would often hack off the hair of their enslaved female servants because it supposedly “confused white men” […]

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[…] white women would often hack off the hair of their enslaved female servants because it supposedly “confused white men” […]

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[…] del Norte leyes que obligaban a las mujeres africanas a ocultar su pelo con un pañuelo. Las Tignon Laws de Luisiana buscaban «preservar la moralidad pública» evitando que se produjesen relaciones […]

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[…] del Norte leyes que obligaban a las mujeres africanas a ocultar su pelo con un pañuelo. Las Tignon Lawsde Luisiana buscaban «preservar la moralidad pública» evitando que se produjesen relaciones […]

trackback

[…] La question de la texture des cheveux des Noirs (de grâce, ne dites pas « ethniques ») ne date pas d’hier. Au temps de l’esclavage, les femmes blanches coupaient souvent les cheveux de leurs esclaves femmes, sous prétexte que cela « troublait l’homme blanc ». […]

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[…] La question de la texture des cheveux des Noirs (de grâce, ne dites pas « ethniques ») ne date pas d’hier. Au temps de l’esclavage, les femmes blanches coupaient souvent les cheveux de leurs esclaves femmes, sous prétexte que cela « troublait l’homme blanc ». […]

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[…] nothing new, nor are the stigmas associated with black hair. Historically, black women have endured Tignon laws, making it illegal to show their hair in public. Employment discrimination against any style that […]

yolanda
Guest
yolanda

Had noo idea.. Wow thanks for this. Will be sharing..

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[…] white women would often hack off the hair of their enslaved female servants because it supposedly “confused white men” […]

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[…] and that is proven through history. Believe or not, back in the 1700s there was a law called “Tignon Laws” in Louisiana which forced women of color to wear head wraps or tignons. This law was passed […]

Frances
Guest
Frances

I first heard about this on your article, but I can’t find anything on when the law was abolished? If anyone has information that would be lovely!

trackback

[…] La question de la texture des cheveux des noirs (de grâce, ne dites pas « ethniques ») ne date pas d’hier. Au temps de l’esclavage, les femmes blanches coupaient souvent les cheveux de leurs esclaves femmes, sous prétexte que cela « troublait l’homme blanc ». […]

trackback

[…] La question de la texture des cheveux des Noirs (de grâce, ne dites pas « ethniques ») ne date pas d’hier. Au temps de l’esclavage, les femmes blanches coupaient souvent les cheveux de leurs esclaves femmes, sous prétexte que cela « troublait l’homme blanc ». […]

trackback

[…] La texture des cheveux des noirs (de grâce, ne dites pas «ethniques») ne date pas d’hier. Au temps de l’esclavage, les femmes blanches coupaient souvent les cheveux de leurs esclaves femmes, sous prétexte que cela «troublait l’homme blanc». […]

Nikole
Guest
Nikole

Frankly speaking, I haven’t heard about this law before, so thanks for the enlightening post! I think, such a hairstyle is a founder of the modern bandana styles. Nowadays the black women still wear updos and I really like this style. Personally I’ve recently found a great collection of updos for black women on https://therighthairstyles.com/updo-hairstyles-for-black-women/, by the way, some of them are made with bandana. I’m going to try those that I liked most of all. Hopefully, this information will be useful for someone.

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[…] choice in the Black community. It was an escape from being a symbol of buffoonery and amusement. Under slavery, black women were actually banned from wearing their natural hair in public. Black men are opposing weave because we understand that it’s time to embrace who we really […]

LINDA
Guest
LINDA

VERY INTERESTING TO KNOW, THANK YOU!!! I AM IMMEDIATELY SHARING THIS WITH MY MULTI‐RACIAL NIECES WHO DO NOT KNOW WHO THEY ARE!!!

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