Braids are Back?!

    Hair braids have been around for a long time. The oldest known evidence of hair braiding may go back about 30,000 years, known in academia as the Woman of Willendorf, is a female figurine estimated to have been made between about 28,000 and 25,000 BC. The Venus of Brassempouy is estimated to be about 25,000 years old and shows a braided hairstyle.

The reality is many communities have incorporated braids into their cultures. Many groups used braids as a way to communicate.

Braid patterns or styles could be used to indicate a person’s community, age, marital status, mourning, wealth, power, social position, and religion.

  • The African culture has been braiding hair for centuries (3500 BC). Braids are very popular for women but are also worn by men. Braiding began in Africa with the Himba people of Namibia. In many African tribes hairstyles are unique and used to identify each tribe.
  • Native Americans braid both men and women’s hair. The three strands are woven together, representing the strengthening of the mind, body and spirit. Braids for the Native American culture serve as a symbol of spiritual strength and health.
  • In Europe during the Renaissance, the French braiding was used to keep the hair as clean as possible as it wasn’t always an option to bathe regularly.
  • Aztec women, in the Americas, would use narrow strips of colorful cloth and braided them into their hair as they wound the braids around their head.
  • In Egypt, wigs were braided and Egyptian royals wore them proudly.

Fast forward to 2018 …

I recently attended my first Renaissance Festival and was intrigued to find a booth offering to braid hair. They had over 400 options to choose from.  It became clear to me that braids were way beyond cornrows and pig tails. The braids people were getting done were simply stunning. I have long hair but it had never occurred to me to braid it. I left the fair with the goal of getting my hair braided. My niece and I set appointments at our local hair salon to get braids done. Addy has mid-length fine hair and I have longer thicker hair.

     I went for something that allowed for me to pull the hair back from my face. I didn’t want a full crown of braids but kind of partial?

  Addy went for a more traditional braid – Dutch Braids.

So, if you’re all excited now to try braids. Some tips that may help you.

    • I’d recommend, if you can afford it, to have your first braiding done by a professional. Be sure you go to a place that actually has experience and proper training. I’d recommend you research braid options prior to getting to the salon as there are so many choices — it’s important to narrow the styles. The cost was $10.00 per person and it did not take long — about 10 minutes. I think if you get something more technical and/or get your hair washed/other it will be more.
    • If you are on a budget there are hundreds of YouTube videos with instructions. Idea: Maybe you can host a braid party with friends and try different styles together?
  • Lastly, if you are used to doing things yourself there are instructions on-line you can follow.

Braids work for all ages and hair types. While braiding longer hair is easier; you can actually braid short to mid-length hair but there may be limits to the style of braid based on length. As the holidays and the New Year approach braids could be the perfect new look for you.

Dr. Vanessa Rodriguez is a board-certified general practitioner with more than 15 years of patient care experience. She takes an integrative approach to patient care that considers the whole person – mind, body, and spirit – and is deeply committed to assisting her patients in achieving and sustaining optimal health. Dr. Vanessa is also a skilled writer and medical reviewer, specializing in preventive care and health promotion. Her articles are written in an approachable manner that is simple to comprehend and implement in one’s own life. Dr. Vanessa’s mission is to equip her patients and readers with the knowledge and resources necessary to live their greatest lives.

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