Got Shells And Beads In Your Braids? That’s Nothing New

box braids
Alyssa Guzik
May 28, 2024

There is nothing like rolling fresh out of the salon with your crown all braided and looking fly. As Black women, when our hair is all done up, it’s not just about beauty. There’s a weight to box braids as a style –the weight of centuries of history.

The country or region of origin for the style is debated between West and South Africa, but what isn’t is that the style has been around since 3,500 B.C. Wealthy women originally wore box braids as a protective hairstyle. Because the style took so long to complete, only women with status had the time and money for the look.

It went beyond just money. Adornments like cowrie shells, jewels and beads worn in a woman’s braids communicated everything from marriage eligibility and age to social status. Over the centuries, not much has changed.

Box braids are now a cultural symbol and fashion statement. The patterns and designs showcase creativity and artistry and are also a form of self-expression.

Today, although box braids are mainstream, they remain a symbol of power, confidence, and beauty. Whether worn for convenience or as a fashion statement, box braids continue to be a powerful mode of expression and representation for anyone who wants to celebrate their roots while rocking their unique style.