Hairstyles and identity

In Sub-Saharan Africa choosing to wear hair naturally, braided, with a woven hair piece or extensions, has social meaning. Natural hair is considered old fashioned by most young people, for example. Also, some consumers find natural hair childlike or rural and inappropriate for the modern, trend-conscious woman. Furthermore, expensive extensions are perceived as reflecting social status by the woman who can afford them, and some will go into debt to distinguish themselves socially.

Although a great majority of women wishes to conform to established beauty codes, new trends such as the "Nhappy" movement from the USA, promotes natural beauty and the use of traditional African beauty products, and encourages wearing curly hair with pride. This trend is spread by media (internet, music clips, TV, etc.) and followed by expatriate Africans, women of relatively high social status. Most consumers, however, are not sensitive to the movement.