I Am My Hair: An In-Depth Look at the Effects of American Beauty Standards on How Women of Color Choose To Wear and Style Their Hair
Brown, Sydney L.
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African American hair is a topic of discussion and debate in terms of racial identity and self-esteem. American beauty standards suggest Eurocentric features (long straight hair, pale skin, thin body shape) to be the most desired look for men and women. African American women in particular have fallen subject to the consequences of not possessing these features. Lack of representation of African American women in media, art, as well as fashion have led to decreased self-esteem and negative effects on their racial identity. This study seeks to find the effects of American beauty standards on African American women between the ages of 18 and 23. Information was collected through interviews with participants that took place in person and over the phone. This study found evidence that African American women are very much aware that their own features do not closely resemble features that society finds to be most beautiful and became aware of this fact at a young age. This study also found that African American hair is very much tied to African American identity and the way that an African American woman styles her hair is influenced by how central their racial identity is to them.