Du-rags were originally the headgear of poor laborers and slaves in the 19th century. In the 1930s, during the Harlem Renaissance and Great Depression, the du-rag evolved into a hairstyle preserver. After the Black Power Movement in the late 1960s, the du-rag became a fashion statement among African Americans, worn by rappers, athletes and young men. In the 2000s, wearing du-rags in public lost popularity. However, because of rappers, such as A$AP Ferg, and the return of waves as a hairstyle, they have now regained their status as a fashion among the African American community.
Motorcyclists wear du-rags, especially in US states with motorcycle helmet laws, to prevent "helmet hair" or "helmet head". The du-rags prevents sweat and sebum from causing an unpleasant smelling helmet, and also prevents sunburn when worn without a helmet.
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