Love & Sex

Tools of Attraction: Afros

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Five New Yorkers discuss their buoyant, bohemian beehives.

Saquan, 25, musician

Do you always rock an Afro?
Not all the time, but when I’m in the city. For some reason, I find that tourists and people from the city get more intrigued by the Afro.

Why do you think that is?
I think it’s the new thing, a return to the Afro-centric.

There’s something about an Afro. Is it your favorite hairstyle on a woman?
Right now? Yeah. I won’t even lie to you — there’s something about it. It’s natural and sexy.

Do you get hit on more when you have your hair out?
Yeah. I find that the women I’m really attracted to stop and talk to me when my hair is out more than when it’s braided. I think that females are kind of into it also.

What does it say about how you live your life?
It says you’re more of a cultural person, more free-spirited, more a person of the arts. I find a lot of artistic people rock that type of hair.

How big will it get?
It gets a whole lot larger than this. It’s like this because I washed it and I didn’t comb it out so it shrunk. But normally, when I take it right out of the braids — you remember how Luda’s hair was? It gets like that.

What does it say to you about a girl when she’s rocking an Afro?
It just shows that funk. I find that a lot of the females that rock it have a real funky little style to them. Not everybody can do it though.

Boots: J.Colt, jeans: American Eagle, shirt: Kenneth Cole

Stacey, 34

How long have you been wearing your hair like that?
Two and a half years.

What made you decide to let it out?
I had dreads for ten years, down to my waist, and then I shaved my head.

We just did a feature on women with short hair. How did you feel with it shaved?
It was amazing; it was the one time in my life that I’ve had short hair and it was very liberating.

What about having an Afro? That must be pretty liberating.
I love it, yes.

Style-wise, how does it influence what you wear?
I’ve always been kind of bohemian, but I feel like having an Afro kind of brings it out more. It’s kind of funkier, whereas with the dreads a lot of people assumed certain things about me — that I smoked a lot of weed or whatever. Like this, I’m just more fashionable.

It’s really high fashion right now, but it takes a lot of confidence.
There was a time in my life when I wouldn’t be caught dead with an ‘fro.

Why not?
In your 20’s, you know, you’re so attached to how you look and having your hair natural was frowned on. So now, having my hair natural — I have no chemicals in it — is very liberating.

When you go out, do you feel like guys dig the Afro?
Yes! Men will come up to me and say, “I love your hair. I wish more people would wear their hair like that."

Sundress: H&M, shoes: Aldo, handbag: Chloe

Nicholas, 27, freelancer

Is this your natural hair?
Yes.

And you wear it loud and proud?
I haven’t cut my hair in a year and a half.

When you were younger did you keep your hair cut shorter?
It was either short or a fro. Sometimes I did the fro-hawk.

So what’s your opinion on ‘fros? Flaunt it if you’ve got it?
Well, not many people can do it.

Do more people approach you because of your hair?
I have lots of people come and reach in and pull on it, or put their fingers through it.

Do you love that?
Sometimes. Sometimes it’s a hassle when you’re trying to go somewhere and somebody grabs onto your hair while you’re walking.

They actually grab on? Do you think they think it’s a Ronald McDonald wig?
I was one place and somebody shoved a dollar into my hair, which was hilarious.

Like you were a hair stripper! What would you think about a 'fro on a girl?
That would be kind of hot.

Do you get positive vibes from black people? Do they congratulate you on your fro?
A lot of them love it. I live in Philadelphia in a predominantly black neighborhood, and I haven’t had any problems. Everyone’s like, “Hey what’s up! I love your hair!”

Jeans: Levi’s, tank top: thrifted, shoes: Vans

Ramzi, 19, student

So, where are you from?
Lebanon.

Are you a student here?
No, I'm at Amherst.

How do you usually wear your hair?
I don't "wear" my hair. I never touch it.

Has it been like this your whole life?
It has been bigger, it’s been smaller, but yeah. Of course I cut it — otherwise it droops over my face. Usually in Beirut you get shit for very long hair. People there wear their hair straight, cut short. On the street sometimes I get a lot of shit for it.

Do people try to touch it?
In Lebanon, yeah. Here, no. In Lebanon, people would think I was from New York.

Do you let people touch it?
I get very angry.

So, can can't touch it?
Oh you can touch my hair, but you have to ask to “touch the 'fro,” and then it's yours.

Would you ever date a girl with a 'fro?
Many girls with a 'fro are beautiful. But I’m not going to be attracted to a woman just because of her hair. I don't want to sound cheesy… I search for certain imperfections that might show off a certain vulnerability. A way that I can really see if I like the girl or not. 

Do you think your hair says something about you?
No. My hair sort of happened by mistake. I forgot to cut my hair and it became a 'fro.

Why do you like it?
I'm not that sentimental, but it's a part of me. In Lebanon, when people gave me shit about my hair, I didn't care. It made no sense to cut it.

Do you think it represents a certain kind of aesthetic?
It doesn't even feel like a 'fro right now. It bounces; I feel it. I discovered a shampoo that helps with it.

So the truth is, you do care. And we've opened you up and now you can admit it's okay to love your hair.
Well, I'm growing it out so that my partner can cut it for me, tomorrow. Only my partner and certain barbers can cut it. It is a sentimental thing, 

blazer: Target, shirt: Polo, jeans: Ecko

Luz, 19, student

Where are you from?
I’m half Spanish, half Mexican.

Have you always worn your hair big?
Yeah. It’s always like this. I don’t do anything to it; I just take a shower and it ends up like this.

Do you call it an Afro in Spanish? 
No, just like, “big hair.”

Do you receive a lot of attention for it?
Yes, from a lot of people. They always say, “Oh, your hair is awesome.” They always want to touch it.

Do they ask first?
Sometimes. I mean, in my country, it’s bad luck if they don’t touch and they say they like it.

Interesting. It’s like a Buddha’s belly. Do you like long, big hair on guys?
Not really. I prefer something different, maybe because I have it big.

Opposites attract. What does your hair say about your style?
I think it looks different and I like it. I look original and unique, with style. Even when I dress simply, I look different.