Over the last decade many black women have been abandoning their rituals of chemically straightening their hair. They are embracing their natural textures and loving it. I’ve been natural for 20 years and it wasn’t a movement when I did it. I just felt like doing something different and was inspired by one of my style icons Lauryn Hill. Plus I didn’t like spending so much money every 2 weeks for upkeep, treatments etc.
With so many women doing it now, most are calling it ‘the big chop’ when they make the leap. Some say they want to be chemical free while others are choosing to make it a statement of embracing their blackness. I’ve noticed lately that the biggest obsession with being natural has become length. How long can you grow your natural hair now that you’re chemical-free? We see so many YouTube videos dedicated to giving tips on how to get long natural hair if you follow their routine and regimen. Some women have gone natural solely in hopes their hair grows longer faster because they couldn’t achieve it with a relaxer.
The reality is not everyone has long natural hair. In fact genetics can make it impossible for some to have length that even comes close to shoulder length.
But there are also those women who don’t care about length and instead choose to rock what looks good on them and highlights their natural beauty. I love to see how these women knock it out every time.
I was inspired to do this list of women to show that you don’t have to have long hair to look good, be feminine and make your own style statement even with your short ‘fro.
Here’s my list of beauties in no particular order from the past and present who know how to rock a short, cropped or even buzzed haircut.
1. Grace Jones
Grace Jones is the Queen of rocking cropped hair and making it look sexy. Currently in her late 60s, the Jamaican beauty moved to the U.S. as a teenager and quickly had a career modelling in New York and then Paris. Known for her androgynous looks, designers like Yves Saint Laurent booked her and she appeared on many magazines including Elle and Vogue.
She’s also an accomplished singer, producer and actress. As of the date writing this post, she is on her 2016 tour with stops in the U.S. and Europe.
2. Roshumba Williams
Although she has been straightening her hair over the last number of years, she wore her hair natural for a large part of her career as the model. Roshumba was highly successful during the 1980s and 1990s when having an afro wasn’t popular. She stayed true to herself and wore it closely cropped for years.
3. Lupita N’yongo
Born in Mexico this super talented Kenyan beauty became a global sensation after winning an Oscar for her role in the film ’12 Years A Slave’. She instantly became a style icon with all her stylish ensembles on the red carpet throughout awards season. It seemed like she never made a fashion faux pas. She was even signed to a beauty contract as the face of Lancome in 2014.
She’s spoken openly about what it’s like to be a dark black girl and why the images we see on screen are so important. She inspires many women and especially those little black girls who can see themselves in media through her.
After appearing in the most recent installment of Star Wars she is starring a new film, Queen of Katwe, scheduled for release in September 2016.
4. Tomiko Fraser Hines
She was the first black model to be signed as the face of Maybelline cosmetics. Tomiko Fraser Hines is an ageless beauty who is a mother, wife, model, Actress, and motivator. She’s an inspiring woman who has been wearing natural hair for years.
After her personal struggle with infertility, she has become an advocate for educating women through sharing her experience in hopes it will help others be able to have their own success stories like hers. She calls herself and infertility overcomer and partnered with Resolve to further her mission of teaching women how they can also overcome.
5. Viola Davis
Viola Davis is an Emmy Winning Actress who is no stranger to the pressures of beauty standards in the film and television industry. As the star of ABC’s hit series How to Get Away With Murder, who can forget the scene in one of the episodes where Davis’ character took her wig off to reveal the natural hair underneath. Or when she stepped on the red carpet with her cropped natural hair. Both powerful moments that speak to the masses about natural hair and black women.
She even spoke briefly on Anderson Cooper’s old talk show about why she wears wigs less often. [Click here for that clip]
6. Patricia Kihoro
The Kenyan Radio Host, Actress and singer looks fabulous wearing her natural hair. She’s been acting since 2004 and has also appeared in stage plays at the Kenyan National Theatre.
She’s became famous for her appearance on the Kenyan reality show Tusker Project Fame 3. Soon after she toured through Europe as part of the musical production Out of Africa: A Safari Througj Magical Kenya. She’s also written and produced her own stage play, Life in the Single Lane.
7. Lineisy Montero
Model Lineisy Montero has rocked the runways for designrs like Prada while keeping her short afro in check. She’s also been featured in campaigns for Chanel and Givenchy.
Originally from the Dominican, she is now based in Paris and represented by Next Model Management and proves you don’t need long hair to be a beauty.
8. Maria Borges
Angolan model Maria Borges made history as the first to wear her natural short afro in a Victoria’s Secret runway show. She usually wears wigs or hair extensions for this and many other modelling jobs. She told her agent she wanted to be natural for the show and was worried she wouldn’t be allowed. When they agreed to let her she was thrilled and shared on her social media leading up to the big event.
In an industry where women are usually wearing wigs and weaves, South African singer, Lira, opts to wear her natural hair. She is a multi-Award winning singer whose style is a blend of soul, jazz and traditional African sounds.
Lira was recently chosen as South Africa’s first brand ambassador for Bobbi Brown Cosmetics.
10. Philomena Kwao
Plus-Size model Philomena Kwao is London-born, New York-based and of Ghanaian heritage. She continues to challenge beauty standards in the fashion industry with her beautiful curves and wearing her closely cropped hair natural.
11. Alex Wek
The Sudanese model usually shaves her head nearly bald, but has been known to grow it to a very short afro throughout her career. She broke barriers in the fashion industry with her deep chocolate skin and high cheekbones showing off her distinctive East African beauty. She appeared on magazine covers including Elle, Essence, Arise and Glamour Netherlands. She’s also walked the runway for some of the worlds top designers including Chanel, Gucci, Diane von Furstenberg, Michael Kors, Christain Dior and countless others.
12. Hamamat Montia
The former Miss Malaika Ghana pagaent winner has forged a successful career as a model and social media has been her best source of promotion. Known for wearing a closely cropped afro, she recently shaved her head bald. She revealed images on social media of the big change.
But as with short hair, change happens quickly. She already has new hair growth since going bald earlier this month. I wonder if she will shave it again or stick with the cropped ‘fro.
13. Lauryn Hill
She started off as part of the rap trio The Fugees before being catapulted to global success with her solo album The Miseducation of Lauryn Hill. As I mentioned before, she is the woman who inspired me when I contemplated going natural. Over the years she has had everything from dreadlocks to a big and short cropped afro.
14. Karlyn Percil-Mercieca
I just had to include Karlyn Percil-Mercieca on my list. Not just because I know her personally, but because I admire her spirit and how she fiercely rocks her natural curls. Always flawless, she is a woman who is all about uplifting others and using experiences as teaching moments.
She is currently the Host of a new talk show called SisterTalk, which was birthed out of a project she created to bring women together in conversations about issues that affect us all. The group even appeared via Skype on Oprah’s LifeClass.
15. Shari Belafonte
The daughter of Harry Belafonte, she forged her own career as a model in the early eighties. She appeared in ads for Cover Girl and Calvin Klein. She is also a singer known for her distinctive raspy voice.
She transitioned into acting early in her career and continues to make appearances on various projects. Most recently she was cast as Mayor Janice Lomax on long-running Soap Opera, General Hospital.
Over the years she has worn her hair in so many different styles, but the short cropped curls are so fitting on her and highlight her features best in my opinion.
16. Chary Jay
Chary Jay has become a hugely successful YouTube vlogger sharing tips on products and taking care of natural hair. She became the envy of many viewers with her long thick luscious curls.
When I last saw her in Toronto she spoke as part of a panel at a natural hair event and everyone coveted her hair. She announced back then that she would be doing a ‘big chop’ soon. I was stunned and wondered if she would go through with it. Eventually she did. [Click here to see her longer thicker hair]
She looks fabulous and continues to inspire women who have gone natural. She proves that long hair isn’t the be all and end all. Short naturals are hot too!