The Louisiana Tignon Laws Of 1786

A West Indian Flower Girl and Two other Free Women of Color by Agostino Brunias
August 23, 2021

In 1700s Lousianna, you might have found Black women wearing beautiful, extravagant hairstyles. Unfortunately, their style was too provocative for insecure whites. When Black women attracted non-Black suitors, it exposed the lies of white supremacy – so they HAD to do something.

Charles III of Spain, who ruled over Louisiana at the time, decided to pass laws that would establish “proper standards of morality” for Black women. He demanded the governor of Louisiana do something at once!

So the “Tignon Laws” were passed, which essentially forced Black women to cover up their hair. 

But funnily enough, Black women found ways to follow the letter of the law – but still resist this anti-Black nonsense.

They used colorful fabrics, elaborate and intricate wrapping techniques, and jewels, beads, and ribbons to showcase their beauty despite the laws – refusing to let such a pathetic policy actually keep us down.

As always, we flipped the script on them – stylish head and hair wraps are now a staple of Black beauty culture.

We’ve always been forced to make ourselves smaller so that white people can shine in comparison to us – especially Black women. Regardless, we’ve never let white insecurity stop us from having a positive self-image – and we definitely shouldn’t start now.

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