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Why don’t most black women show their natural hair?

The black hair care market is a multi-billion dollar industry, and in America, although black people make up a third of the nonwhite population, they account for almost 90% of the spending in the ethnic hair market. But the stats don't reveal the full story. Throughout history, textured hair has been a target of great oppression, affecting black women's wealth and even their health. So what is the hidden cost of having black hair?

 Many black people have experienced some form of prejudice because of their hair.

 A survey by the Perception Institute asked black and white women to score their attitude towards different hair types out of five, with five being the most positive.

It found that, on average, white women regarded smooth hair as more beautiful, attractive, and professional than textured hair. This attitude is something Tamara Jilk Sport, the Economist's US policy correspondent, knows all too well.

 It has been considered unacceptable for black women to be able to present their hair in the way that it grows out of their head. And often, that means having to do a lot of things to move their hair closer to Caucasian standards. So that might involve processing their hair with chemicals so it becomes straight. That might involve dyeing their hair. And that's time-consuming and expensive. But the stigma against black hair runs deeper than just black versus white. There's also a stigma within the black community.

 The same survey found that black women also believed textured hair was perceived as less beautiful, attractive, and unprofessional.

 From very early on, you realize that your hair is either good or bad. And often, it's compared to people close to you, like your mother or your sister. For African American women, when their hair is closer to Caucasian beauty standards, they're often considered to have good hair.

 The concept of good hair began hundreds of years ago.

 In 14,15th century Africa. The hair was really important in proclaiming one's identity. You wore a hairstyle that told the world who you were, what family you belonged to, and what tribe you belonged to. The more elaborate your hairstyle meant, the more status that you had.

 But the transatlantic slave traders shape the heads of their captives, stripping them of their identity. For many enslaved people in the New World, their hair became a means of survival.

 Having good hair meant that your hair was kind of good enough to allow you to be seen as human instead of animalistic. The hair was one of the few things that could be manipulated. If you could make your hair look less African and make it look more European then you might not have your child ripped out of your arms. You may not be beaten as badly. You may not be given such backbreaking work that will kill you before your 30th birthday. So literally from birth, black mothers would try to straighten their children's hair, straighten their hair, just to see if they would be seen with a little bit of humanity.

Even after slavery was abolished, the pressures on black women to have more Eurocentric hair continued.

 If a black person wanted to find a job working with or amongst white people, then they were going to continue to try to copy their styles so that they could be easily assimilated into social society, all part of the people.

 But with the rise of the Black Power movement of the 1960s and 70s, natural textured hair became a political statement.

 To keep black hair looking like white hair. It's like, it's extra work. It starts your time, it's extra money. And so there was this faction of black people during the civil rights movement who said, you know what, I'm not even gonna do this anymore.

 But it didn't last. With a shift towards more conservative values in the Reagan era, fashion reverted to more processed styles like the Jerry curl. But I fast forward to 2021 and black women still feel pressure to radically alter their hair. A study in 2019 found that African American women were 80% more likely to feel they had to change their natural hairstyle to fit in that work.

 Many people spend a lot of time and money on their professional appearance. On top of all the other things, black women have this added layer of worrying about whether or not their hair blends in with what white society deems acceptable, whether or not we need to straighten our hair to be appropriate for work or whether we can wear braids or whether we can wear our hair in our natural state.

 The black hair business in total is estimated to be anywhere from 4 to 9 billion dollars depending on who you ask. I mean, you have stylists, you have the hair weave business is enormous. It's a multi-billion dollar industry. The product business, the shampoos, the conditioners, the creams, all of that.

 But often these products are difficult to source from mainstream shops. 70% of British women of color feel the high street doesn't cater to them. Perhaps not helped by the fact that many of the biggest global hair care brands do not have a black woman on their board. It's a world away from the early years of the black hair care industry when it was dominated by entrepreneurs like Madam C. J. Walker.

 But then decades later, you started to see that money go towards more white-owned or Asian-owned businesses. We're starting to see a bit of a turn now with women being able to sell their products online. But we're still seeing this disconnect between who's spending all the money and who's getting the money.

 The problem when it comes to Afro and curly hair is that you can often end up with people who don't understand how black care works. But we'll make products just because it's lucrative. So many of these products are not being trialed on real people with real afro hair as they're being made, they're being infested on chemically cold straight hair. So that means most of the products out there don't work that well. But it doesn't matter because the customers will keep buying it. And if they buy the first thing and it doesn't work, they'll buy the next thing, then the next thing, and then the next thing.

 A study in 2019 by the National Institutes of Health found that African-American women who regularly use chemical hair straighteners were around 30% more likely to get cancer than white women. And it's not just occasional treatments like relaxes or perms that are toxic, but also products used daily. Epidemiologist Tamara James Todd researches the health effects of chemicals used in textured hair care products. You'll.

 Note on the label oftentimes the word fragrance. Well, fragrance is synonymous with hundreds of different types of chemicals. And one of the things that's holding that fragrance in there is a type of chemical called a palate and phthalates are associated with adverse health outcomes. When these chemicals get inside our bodies, they can disrupt those normal processes. So they can impact reproductive health, cardiovascular health, and so on.

 Dr James Todd's research found that half of the products being marketed to black women contain hormone-disrupting chemicals and those were just the ones disclosed on the label. In America, it's not a requirement to safety test ingredients in personal care products before they are used. The European Union bans 1300 chemicals from cosmetics, but America bans just 11.

 The natural hair movement that are in the midst of right now is truly revolutionary because it is a movement founded on changing the notions of beauty for black women. When somebody says, wait a minute, your natural hair, the way it grows out of your head is appropriate for the workplace, it is gorgeous. You should love it. That is revolutionary.

 Between 2016 and 2018, sales of at-home relaxes dropped by almost a quarter as more women embraced their natural hair.

 Alongside this raised awareness of textured hair have come much-needed policy changes. Some states and cities in America have passed a Crown Act banning hair discrimination and there's a chance it may soon become federal law. In Britain, hair care companies are now being encouraged to support natural hairstyles.

 While the natural hair movement is empowering, it still has a long way to go before women can truly be free in terms of women's hair choices. There's a lot involved still, even the natural hair to get it to the texture and the shape and the definition that is considered acceptable for women to go to work. When women can get to a place where black women can also have messy hair, don't care about whatever hairdo, and walk out the door and be okay and be considered professional, then society will have made a lot of progress.

 It's important for all women to feel that they can arrive to the world the way that they are naturally and that when they do so, they're in full force. They're beautiful, they're confident, they're professional, they're everything they need to be and more.


We hope that people can have a diverse and free aesthetic.

We hope that people respect individual differences.

We hope that people can have healthy natural hair.


I hope that you all enjoyed this sharing topic and found it helpful, and I'll share a new topic in my next one. Bye.

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