Essay on Why Are Black Women So Worried About Getting Hair Wet?

Essay on Why Are Black Women So Worried About Getting Hair Wet?

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Why are black women so worried about getting their hair wet? How painful are weaves? Can blacks really get our edges back after they are gone? Those are some of the questions that are asked by people in America who look white. African American hair is different from white hair. In Americanah by Chimananda Nogzi Adichie, the main character Ifemelu changers her hair throughout her experiences in Nigeria and America. In Nigeria, she wears box braids, but when she comes to America she chemically relaxed and then chops off all of her hair. When she returns back to Nigeria, she puts her hair back into box braids. Hair is significant in this story because it represents her identity as an African American woman in American and in Nigeria. She learns what it means to be an African American in America.


One of the themes that are consistent throughout the story is hair. Eighty present of the book is told from Ifemelu sitting in an African Hair braiding shop getting her hair braided for six hours. While sitting in the chair she would have flash backs of her life in Nigeria and in America. One of the very first flash backs that she has of hair is of her mother’s hair. She talks about how she admires her mother hair. When strangers would see her mother hair, they would say “Are you from Jamaica? As though only foreign blood…thin at temples” (49). This suggests that people have stereotypes on African American hair. Black women who have long hair must be mixed with another race because if she is not, her hair must be short or have weave in it. As times goes on we see that Ifemelu before did not really care about her hair before. Before she comes to America she was okay with just having box braids. Before she left for America her Aunt Uja told ...


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...med hair and becomes natural. She feels even more beautiful than she had before. She believes “strongly that we should be proud of our hair” (Calkin). Americanah ends with Ifemelu returning back to Nigeria. The reoccurring scene that is being shown of her being in the hair braiding shop is her getting her hair braided for her return to Nigeria. By her getting her hair braided back into box braids, she is reconnecting herself with her homeland. This is an example of her new identity. She is no longer what the world around her wants her to be, she is who she wants to be. While at a party with her with her friends Bisola and Yagazie, we see that they are talking about their own natural hair. Yagazie says “The salon girls are always like…natural hair in Africa” (502). This tells us that now that Ifemelu has returned back to Nigeria she clearly has a new identity.




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