The History of Baby Hairs

Chilli

The Queen of Baby Hairs, Rozonda “Chilli” Thomas. Courtesy of Getty Images

Stop the co-opt. In this EBONY.com series exploring Black hair origins, we trace the styling of baby hairs to Black and Hispanic communities

Nearly every Black and Latina woman knows the drill when it comes to styling her baby hairs.

Pulling out a jar of gel or pomade and using a tooth brush to slick down those baby hairs before leaving the house for a night out is equivalent to icing on a cake.

Just so we’re clear: Baby hairs are those small, fine-textured hairs that sit along the hairline. They are most commonly found among women of color with textured hair.

Celebrities such as Zendaya, Yara Shahidi, Rihanna and FKA Twigs started embracing theirs in recent years, but Chilli from TLC is often hailed the unofficial baby hairs queen.

However, the styling of baby hairs as we know it seems to have started in the 1970s. LaToya Jackson’s baby hairs were on fleek for much of the decade. And in 1973, Sylvia Robinson, founder and CEO of Sugar Hill Records, can be seen rocking baby hairs on her “Pillow Talk” album cover. Furthermore, Pat Davis and Fawn Quinones slayed their baby hairs as they boogied down on Soul Train.

Thought baby hairs were reserved for the ladies only? No ma’am. If Chilli was the queen of baby hairs, then Ginuwine was the unofficial king.

To quote Salt ‘n Pepa, standing in front of a mirror for long periods of time trying to perfect that swirl was considered “very necessary”.

“Growing up in the eighties and nineties, wearing the latest hair trend, while sporting baby hairs was synonymous with the ‘Fly Girl’ phenomenon,” explains publicist Colleen Gwen Armstrong, who runs the popular Instaglam News account. “Times may have changed, but the ‘Fly Girl’ phenomenon continues as baby hairs continue to represent a symbol of beauty within the Black community.”

Read more of my latest piece for Ebony [here].

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