A thread requesting for all women who were ever featured on a perm box took Twitter by storm, and for users, it was an enjoyable walk down memory lane. Not only did the thread show the transformation of cute girls to beautiful women, it showcased the power and legacy in the field of Black marketing campaigns.
Models came out in abundance with before and after pics, each looking just as beautiful as their pint-sized selves.
“Being on the perm box was like being a mini-celebrity in the Black community,” the former face of PCJ Pretty-n-Silky relaxer kit, Whitney Wandland, told BuzzFeed. “We were images for other little Black girls growing up,” Wandland said. “They could see themselves in stores, on shelves, being displayed. It was something for all of us to be proud of.”
Now at 30, it’s hard to tell she’s aged at all. She now competes in pageants and is representing Illinois at the Miss USA competition. She is also a trained choreographer. “It was nice early on in life to have people affirm that we do have beautiful hair in whatever state it’s in,” Wandland said.
For Ash Leon, the mastermind behind the Twitter thread, “these boxes were kind of the first aspirations of glamour for us, and it’s cool to see how the definition of glamour has grown,” she told BuzzFeed. “I feel like everybody felt cozy in that tweet. I did not expect that outpouring of togetherness amongst us. For something so small, at least, seemed small, but obviously, it has a grander impact.”
Garrett Augustus Morgan accidentally invented hair relaxer in 1909 when he tried to find a way to ease friction on machines at his tailor shop. He decided to test the cream in his neighbor’s dog and saw the results, leading him to sell the product to people seeking to straighten their natural hair. Relaxers has since gained prominence with the rise of Black businesswoman Madam C.J. Walker, and then again in the 90s when a slew of companies began to sell the product.
Natalie Githu said she was ony 4 when she landed the gig as the face of Dark and Lovely’s Beautiful Beginnings relaxer kit. She recalls being at the shoot and not understanding what was happening at the time. She also wasn’t aware of the lasting impact her face on the box would have.
“To me, that is the biggest form of flattery,” Githu told BuzzFeed News. The 24-year-old said being one of only a few Black girls in her school often felt her feeling secluded because of their strict hair policy.
“Black hair and Black texture wasn’t the norm at all,” Githu said. “It was a very taboo topic, and my hair was something I didn’t feel comfortable with, because I didn’t fit societal norms at that time.”