Black Assimilation Through Hair Essay

3203 Words Jul 1st, 2013 13 Pages
Hair is an aspect of identity many women are made to confront. It is a projection of how a woman would like to be perceived and who she believes she is within her society. Black women in America face an interesting dilemma when it comes to hair. When African slaves were brought to America, they were confronted with the Eurocentric ideal of beauty, which, in addition to pale skin and Anglo Saxon facial structure, also included straightened hair. As time progressed, black people sought new ways to assimilate. Throughout the course of time many hair straightening agents such as straightening irons, perms, and hair extensions have been used to help aid black people in mimicking the hairstyles of the socially accepted white standards. More …show more content…
The first hair straightening methods started to appear in the U.S. around the late 1800’s early 1900’s. One of the first inventors was an African American Woman named Annie Turnbo Pope Malone, who obtained the first US patent for the hot comb. The hot comb was simply one of the ways Ms. Malone sought to improve the hair straightening practices and techniques used by African-Americans at the time. The hot comb was a metal comb that is heated on either a range top or burner to a temperature between 300 and 500 degrees Fahrenheit. By pulling the heated comb through the hair, the pressure applied during the combing process breaks down the hair fiber’s biochemical bonds. As the temperature diminishes, the bonds reconnect and keep the hair straight. This process was not easy nor was it 100 percent safe. Hot combs tended to cause heat damage to hair and could burn the scalp if used incorrectly. It also was a very tedious task to hot comb the natural coarse nature of African American hair. However black women at the time would virtually do anything for straight hair and mostly ignored the risk of these items just to achieve this look. She studied hair textures for nearly a decade before developing her own line of products that were later marketed and sold door to door by trained saleswomen, one of which was

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