The History Of Black Hair Essay

The History Of Black Hair Essay

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The history of black hair has evolved from decade to decade and is still doing so today. No matter the shape, color or form “. . . black hair has long had the power to set trends and reflect societal attitudes” (naturallycurly.com Michelle Breyer). The past history of African-Americans has fueled hate within Black women creating a division within their culture. Black women first began to loose their sense of identity around the 14th century when slaves were forced out of their homelands of Africa by the Europeans thus creating the Transatlantic Slave Trade. During this time women were seen embracing their natural tresses with locks and twists, but that seemed to quickly change. In order to fit into this new European standard of beauty women were required to alter their hair, thus stripping them of the little identity they possessed. This new idea of beauty rejected the elaborate hairstyles that the African women were known for and instead replaced them with features that did not reflect African culture. During the 1800’s slaves were denied the proper tools necessary for maintaining their hair. Black women were trained to hate their hair because those of lighter-complexion with straight hair were seen as more attractive and valuable than slaves with darker skin and kinkier hair. The comparison of light-skin vs. dark-skin sparked a debate that is still relevant today and also coined the terms “Good Hair” and “Bad Hair”. The notion of “Good Hair’ became a symbol of acceptance. Without appearing as having “Good Hair” many women were denied from schools, jobs, churches, and more. By comparing their hair to things such as “wool” whites deprived women of their humanity, deepening their struggle for their identity. The invention of the ...


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...have had to endure.
This idea of cultural appropriation is insensitive to the black race because white women can not understand the context behind these styles, and instead, turn them into materialistic objects with no meaning or purpose. For white women, these hairstyles hold no meaning, it is just about looks; for black women, it holds deep value because it is something that we have learned to embrace through years of racism and oppression. To the black women, hair is representative of many things including her race, and without it, she is “in danger of having no identity” (Michel Omi and Howard Winant 87). Society and mainstream media fail to recognize the direct connection between black women and girls’ hairstyles with their identity and strong culture. In spite of societal view, black hair will always remain the key symbol to the black women’s true identity.

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