We’re suckers for big hair, which means we fall hard whenever we spot a woman sporting an afro. The hairstyle is the alpha and omega of the distinguished Big Hair Club—you know, that tacit institution that has women thumping on its door with their curling irons, hot rollers, and jumbo-sized cans of hairspray.
But the afro isn’t all style and no substance. In the 1960s and ’70s, it was first a symbol of political radicalism, then of racial and cultural unity within the African American community. With its sky-high stature, the women and men who wore it forced others to recognize them and visually acknowledge their rejection of a white-sanctioned standard of beauty—of being. It made a bold declaration, one the country desperately needed. (For more on the history of the afro, go here, here, and here.)
Enough time has passed that a new generation has been able to embrace it in a new context, but that doesn’t mean it’s lost its roots. The afro remains a powerful symbol of pride and self-love.
Below, check out the glorious heights these 20 women are reaching with their big, beautiful ‘fros.
1. Solange Knowles and Her Scene-Stealing Afro
Solange Knowles has a big sister who’s arguably the most beloved person on the planet, but Sol isn’t lurking in any shadows. The gorgeous singer has an impressive career and a signature style all her own. When she debuted this stunning afro, everyone who laid eyes on it swooned.
2. Large Medium-Brown Airy ‘Fro
This afro isn’t super-dense throughout; it has some airiness at the top that creates a breezy, laid-back vibe. But that element of the style doesn’t take away from the look’s confident coolness.
3. Esperanza Spalding’s Always-Chic Afro
Genius musician Esperanza Spalding’s perfectly picked-out afro is beyond glamorous. Its pristine circular shape is reminiscent of iconic ’70s afros, but on her head, it takes on a contemporary elegance.
4. Small, Stylish Rich-Brown Afro with Visible Curls
The curls in this afro are well defined, which adds interest and charm to the hairstyle. The length is super manageable, too. Clearly this ‘do looks pretty when complemented with tons of ornate accessories, but it’ll still look great paired with a casual weekend look.
5. Pretty Caramel-Brown Afro
Feel that, you winter-weather weary? That’s the visual equivalent of a burst of sunshine. The woman’s gorgeous head of hair is styled in a sweet way, with lots of curls maintaining their shape. But she’s also turned up the color factor and injected her ‘fro with a sumptuous amber-brown hue.
6. Smaller, Full, Bouncy Black Afro
We’re loving the shape of this afro. Instead of being the same length throughout, the top is longer than the hair at the woman’s neck, resulting in a silhouette that’s not as circular as some of the afros we’ve seen. Her natural hair color also beautifully complements her skin tone.
7. Billowy Chocolate-Brown Afro
Here’s another afro that’s not as heavy as some of its Big Hair Club counterparts. Indeed, the lightness makes for an ethereal look, almost like we’re seeing a fuzzy halo around her head. The rich color adds to the style’s magic.
8. Medium-to-Large-Sized Chunky Afro
This stunning afro is another one that goes for the “natural hair, don’t care” vibe, celebrating a chunky messiness instead of well-combed ends. Both styles have their undeniable charms, but this one looks fantastic here, particularly when styled with a casual tee.
9. Long Platinum-Blonde Afro
Did you adequately prepare yourself for this enchanting afro with platinum-blonde color and ringlets galore? This woman is winning the style game on so many levels. Not only is she flaunting her gorgeous natural hair, but she’s also chosen a trendy color to infuse throughout the whole ‘do.
10. Funky, Chunky, Curly Afro
This afro’s motto? “Large and in charge.” We love the size of it, which is actually somewhere in between medium and large, and the atypical shape. When you add a metallic fanny pack to the look, it’s going to sharply increase your boss aesthetic.
11. Large Two-Tone Afro with Honey-Brown and Light-Medium-Brown Coloring
Every woman who embraces the afro is going to put her own unique twist on it, and this one is no exception. Its shape is artistic and atypical: long on the sides, slightly ascending on top where there are some longer strands. The two-tone color just adds to the high-fashion vibe.
12. Chic and Classy TWA (Teeny Weeny Afro)
Think you’re going to have a tough time looking glamorous with a shorter afro? Think again. This one looks outrageously pretty (though it doesn’t hurt to glam up your makeup or don some evening attire.) Best of all, this length will be more manageable when you’re getting ready or out and about.
13. Big, Towering Deep-Mahogany-Brown Afro
On the other end of the size spectrum is this big, bold afro—and we couldn’t be more blown away by it. The ends of the hair are freewheeling, not conforming to one length but pointing a spotlight onto each and every adorable curl. Rounding out the look’s fabulousness is the robust mahogany color.
14. Super Stylish Medium-Sized Afro with Side Part
We love this woman’s afro for its luscious shape, which seems unique and fashionable but also simple, relaxed, and easy. The ends of her hair showcase multiple tufts of curls vying for our attention. Another thing about this photo that we love? How, above all else, this woman’s serene confidence shines through.
15. Smaller Afro with Trendy Gray Color
If you’ve got a funky side to your personality and you want to accentuate it, go for a smaller, easier-to-manage afro, but pair it with a trendy hair color. The gray shade of this woman’s hair looks so trendy and fun.
16. Thick Curly Afro in Throwback ’70s Style
Sure, this woman is definitely playing up a distinct ’70s vibe, with her gold accessories and glam makeup, but the ‘fro really drives the look home. It’s one that, when worn in this day and age, has a playful effect, not a stodgy, stuck-in-the-20th-century feel. Her super-thick afro is all kinds of gorgeous.
17. Lovely Medium-Sized Afro with Brown and Caramel Coloring
So many things to adore with this look. First, you’ve got a gorgeously shaped afro. It accentuates the crown with serious volume at the top. This type of shape draws the eye upward, allowing you to notice this woman’s gorgeous eyes. But you also have incredible color, with multiple hues of brown mixed throughout.
18. Huge Hipster Afro
Wowza! We’re totally crushing on this woman’s bold, beautiful ‘fro, with its giant size and chunky, starkly defined ends. Her look lets her unique style shine through, which we’re reading as a little bit wild, a lot nerdy, and unfailingly fun.
19. Small-to-Medium-Sized Afro, Perfect for Any Occasion
This afro is in between small and medium sized, which means it’s perfect for just about any occasion. We also think the woman’s beautiful oval face works well with the rounded shape of the hairstyle.
20. Playful Medium-Sized ‘Fro
How could anyone look at this picture and not feel pure, unadulterated happiness? This woman is loving her beautiful natural hair, and we love it, too.