Ever heard of the phrase, “If beauty was a crime then you’d be in jail”?
Today, black women purchase everything from hair perms to expensive hair weaves, hair extensions and wigs to make their hair look different than their own natural hair.
What many of the same women don’t know is that their natural, beautiful hair was once so beautiful that it was deemed illegal.
Historical records show that women of color in Louisiana were ordered to cover their hair with a fabric/cloth today called a Tignon (tiyon) or else face criminal charges for not covering their head.
Actually, this is aligned with the bible as there are verses about women covering their hair:
1 Corinthians 11 5:6 (KJV)
5 But every woman that prayeth or prophesieth with her head uncovered dishonoureth her head: for that is even all one as if she were shaven.
6 For if the woman be not covered, let her also be shorn: but if it be a shame for a woman to be shorn or shaven, let her be covered.
The laws in Louisiana started in 1789 as a part of what was called Bando du buen gobierno (Edict for Good Government).
The order was put in place by the governor of Louisiana at that time, a Spanish man by the name of Esteban Rodriguez Miró. It was called Tignon Law.
Miró hoped that the law would prevent white men from being so attracted to women of color for their beautiful hair and also decrease the threat to white women’s relationships with Spanish and French (white) men while no longer causing the already jealousy and anger in white wives, mothers, sisters and daughters.
What Miró did not expect was that, after implementing the laws, women of color actually became even more attractive after covering their hair.
Not only did the Tignons fail to become a symbol of dishonor and shame, but black women turned the mark of the Tignon into a fashion statement which attracted even more men and caused more outrage with the white women who felt they were even more threatened by black women in society.