The Politics Of Black Hair Essay example

1601 Words Aug 21st, 2015 7 Pages
The Politics of Black Hair:
A Feminist Analysis of the Construction the Black Female Identity

The general consensus amongst most feminist scholars is that beauty standards have not changed much since the 1800s—the construction of female beauty still features a young white woman with large breasts, a small waist, light eyes, and long flowing hair. The act of policing the alteration of Black hair has become one of the most significant ways in which Black people engage in respectability politics. As of 2011, $507 billion dollars of the $836 billion dollar hair care industry is coming from Black women consumers. This means that 80% of all hair care consumers are Black women; while Black women only make up 6% of the United States population (Thompson 852). As showcased by these numbers, Black hair is a major part of Black culture and upbringing. This paper explores the ways in which Black hair has been more than just an aesthetic, but has constructed a black political identity. It serves to look at the politicized history of Black hair and its ability to legitimize the voices of some Black women as well as the ways in which the rituals of Black hair care has created Black womanhood. Prior to the transatlantic slave trade, Black hair, in Africa, had both cultural and spiritual meanings for men and women. They would wear their hair in braids, twists, Nubian knots, Zulu knots, and even dreadlocks—all styles that are still popular amongst those who have decidedly gone…

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