100 Years of Beauty Part 21: Kenya

I’m so pleased we’re all caught up now with this CutVideo series. Yesterday, the latest installment of the series arrived, with the third of their looks into the beauty standard of the last 100 years in the African continent. Like the first two, , Ethiopia and Egypt, the series is sticking with the eastern side of the continent, and deep diving into Kenya.


Kenya was one of the more advanced African countries before colonization in the late 1880s by the UK. The Swahili culture that pervaded the country from the 10th century onward was exported via that colonization and trumpeted by the Brits as the “exotic look of Africa,” leading to many of the beauty standards you are about to see as the basis for the stereotypes we Westerners bring to mind when we think of generalized “African” culture today.

The first three decades of the video are all under British colonial rule. The 1940s see a sudden rise in the headscarf, but unlike in other countries, this was not due to a surge in Muslim fundamentalism. Instead is was fueled by the mid 1940s nationalist movement that gained steam as the British Empire crumbled during WWII. But the 1960s, Kenya was fully independent, and experimenting with adopting Western Standards, or, by the 1970s, working off its own, far more interesting model.


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