Event Title

The Politics of Black Women's Hair

Location

CSU 202

Start Date

16-4-2013 1:15 PM

End Date

16-4-2013 2:15 PM

Student's Major

Gender and Women's Studies

Student's College

Social and Behavioral Sciences

Mentor's Name

Shannon Miller

Mentor's Department

Gender and Women's Studies

Mentor's College

Social and Behavioral Sciences

Description

Historically, Black women’s image has been subjected to high scrutinization that rendered every choice they made for their body and hair important. Black women have undergone many pressures that shaped their hair choices in various ways. However, there is general tendency in the literature to homogenize all Black women’s experiences and disregard their ethnic diversity. In this study, we explored both African and African-American college women’s feelings about the motivations to straighten (relax) or wear their hair without chemical treatment (natural). For this qualitative approach, we utilized a cross-cultural approach and interviewed 12 African and African American college women with relaxed (chemically treated) or natural (chemically untreated) to understand the motivations for their various hair choices. Findings reveal that African and African American women with relaxed hair are influenced by different factors; African women with relaxed hair reported being influenced by community and media while African American women reported family as the most influential factor regarding their hair decisions. Both African and African American women with natural hair viewed their hair as a personal choice rather than a political statement. In general, African American women reported more exposure to natural hair than African women who, for the most part, discovered it when they came to the United States. Although, Black women seem to have similar experiences about their hair cross-culturally, there are relevant particularities in each group’s experiences that are worth taking into account for a more precise knowledge of these groups.

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Apr 16th, 1:15 PM Apr 16th, 2:15 PM

The Politics of Black Women's Hair

CSU 202

Historically, Black women’s image has been subjected to high scrutinization that rendered every choice they made for their body and hair important. Black women have undergone many pressures that shaped their hair choices in various ways. However, there is general tendency in the literature to homogenize all Black women’s experiences and disregard their ethnic diversity. In this study, we explored both African and African-American college women’s feelings about the motivations to straighten (relax) or wear their hair without chemical treatment (natural). For this qualitative approach, we utilized a cross-cultural approach and interviewed 12 African and African American college women with relaxed (chemically treated) or natural (chemically untreated) to understand the motivations for their various hair choices. Findings reveal that African and African American women with relaxed hair are influenced by different factors; African women with relaxed hair reported being influenced by community and media while African American women reported family as the most influential factor regarding their hair decisions. Both African and African American women with natural hair viewed their hair as a personal choice rather than a political statement. In general, African American women reported more exposure to natural hair than African women who, for the most part, discovered it when they came to the United States. Although, Black women seem to have similar experiences about their hair cross-culturally, there are relevant particularities in each group’s experiences that are worth taking into account for a more precise knowledge of these groups.

Recommended Citation

Niabaly, Dieynaba and Vanessa King. "The Politics of Black Women's Hair." Undergraduate Research Symposium, Mankato, MN, April 16, 2013.
http://cornerstone.lib.mnsu.edu/urs/2013/oral-session-09/1