The Influence Of Hair In African American Culture

1068 Words 5 Pages
The trends surrounding African American women’s hair have been ongoing since times of slavery. Since then there has also been much controversy over style, appropriation and what is and is not appropriate in the work place. As many women can understand and relate, your hair is a part of your identity. The same goes for black women but it’s even much more than that. As a black woman, our hair is also a large part of our culture and throughout time we have seen many changes in regards to it. Black hair has forever been criticized with its many trends and styles that one must wonder, is there any way for a black woman to wear her hair without being socially ostracized?
The history behind black hair ties so deeply to the history of black people.
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In captivity African American people were told that they were lesser and trained to believe that anything that was originally theirs was not good enough. The “miseducation” of the African American people was intended to take the power of self from the people. Without security of self, anyone can be influenced to do anything, even allow social constructs to dominate their lives. It has taken years to begin to undo the damage done to the psyche of black women. “African Americans are being slowly elbowed out of our own spaces and aesthetics, and back into a world that displays open contempt for everything we create or do, so long as we’re the ones partaking in it” (Walker).
In America, African American hair is considered “bad hair” by white beauty standards. With its kinky and coily texture, it’s no wonder the word nappy has often been used to describe black hair. This hatred of black hair has manifested its self into a multi-million dollar industry of beauty supply chains and real hair weaves used by many women today. From a young age black girls are taught that straight long hair is “good hair”. Most are subjected to perms, relaxers or get their hair straightened. This is a
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What styles are proper for the work place? Why are some hair styles acceptable on others but not acceptable on the people from which it originated from? These are just a few of the questions a lot of African American women are faced with today when choosing how to style or wear their hair. Many regulations and rules in the work place discourage employees, specifically black females, from either wearing their hair in its natural state to wearing ethnic styles such as braids. Even the US army has regulations regarding the “banning of unaltered black hair from public view, schools, and workspaces has had a long precedent in this country, one that continues to this day” (Walker). Despite the fact that African American women have broken many barriers in the work place, their hair and hair styles continue to be restricted and confined to conform to styles which are deemed acceptable by white standards. “Black women have been fired from corporate jobs for wearing cornrows (too ethnic) and for putting a blond streak in their hair at Hooters (Black women don’t have blond hair)” (Golden). Many black women are discriminated in job interviews or in the work place for hair that is “unprofessional”. Some are even faced with the harsh choice of cutting their hair or losing their job. The representation of culture and ethnicity can prevent African American women from success in the business world and other professional

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