We've been looking forward to WatchCut's "100 Years of Beauty" features ever since the company's inaugural "U.S.A." video from over a year ago. Since then, it's tackled the beauty evolutions of many people and cultures: Black women, Korean women, Japanese women, and many, many others. Yesterday, it released yet another long-awaited video, this time showing off trends in Black men's hairstyles.
The looks start in the 1910s with the model donning not much of a hairstyle at all, covered by a hat. "In the early 20th century, most people wouldn't be caught leaving the house without a hat on," says visual anthropologist Chris Chan in a separate video, which explains the research behind the looks. “Part of being in a civil society [was] having a hat on in public.” Fast-forward to the 1930s, when the side-part style was modeled after that of Donald Sheffield Ferguson, the first Black medical student at Kansas University.
The 1950s brought us the popularity of the conk hairstyle, commonly worn by singer Little Richard, while the 1960s style was a nod to the Black Panther movement, inspired by one of its founders, Huey Newton. The '70s, '80s, and '90s ushered in styles like the picked-out Afro, Jean-Michel Basquiat-esque hair, and, of course, the notorious flat top, which got a modern upgrade come 2010. And who could forget the cornrow style, popularized in the early '00s (which has been appropriated time and time again of late)?
"I just think it's interesting, in a century, you have white men going to Black-owned barbershops to get their hair done because it's part of a longer Southern tradition," Chan notes at the end of the research-themed video. "One thing I think 100 Years of Beauty has always tried to do is show how the past continues to inform the present."
As some commenters have pointed out, other notable styles that seem to be missing are the Jheri curl from the '80s and dreadlocks, which many men of color have been wearing for decades. But even with those omissions, we think WatchCut did a pretty good job paying homage. (Plus, who can really complain when the model has a face like that? Not us, that's for sure.)
Check out the video above, and carve out some time to learn about the stories behind the looks below, too.