Over the years, we’ve seen a serious increase in Black women ditching their relaxers and going natural—and that’s an empowering thing to witness. But sadly, how the world reacts to our hair is less than empowering.
According to the Huffington Post, in collaboration with Shea Moisture, the Perception Institute launched the “Good Hair Study: Explicit and Implicit Attitudes Toward Black Women’s Hair,” to convey that society still has some serious issues with textured hair.
The Institute interviewed more than 4,000 people, showing them photos of Black women with both straight and curly hair, along with alternating word associations accompanying the images to help figure out how the participants subconsciously view different textures of our hair. From those interviews, researchers concluded that “a majority of people, regardless of race and gender, hold some bias towards women of color based on their hair.”
Other key findings included:
- White folks were the ones who had the most hostility toward natural hair, but that Black people weren’t exempt from possessing this type of bias either.
White women demonstrate the strongest bias — both explicit and implicit — against textured hair. They rated it as “less beautiful,” “less sexy/attractive” and “less professional than smooth hair.” However, white women who are in contact with Black women naturalistas demonstrated lower levels of bias.
Millennials of all races showed far more positive attitudes towards textured hair than older people.
Naturalistas showed either “no bias or a slight preference for natural hair.”
- Black women perceive a level of social stigma against textured hair, and this perception is substantiated by white women’s devaluation of natural hairstyles.
Most importantly, researchers also addressed the concerns, social pressures and experiences women have related to their own hair. They found that almost all women worry about their hair to some extent; with Black women experiencing the high levels of anxiety.
- One in three Black women report that their hair is the reason they haven’t exercised, compared to one in ten white women.
- One in five Black women feel social pressure to straighten their hair for work — twice as many as white women.
- Black women are more likely to report spending more time on their hair than white women and we are more likely to report having professional styling appointments more often than white women. We also spend more money on our products.
Translation: Being natural ain’t easy y’all.
And while we celebrate celebs such as Solange, Tracee Ellis Ross, Viola Davis and Lupita for being natural role models and inspiring us to give up our dependence on creamy crack, this report’s findings echoes the known bias that too many of us with natural hair have encountered.
Just look at the news. In the past year alone, we saw a navy officer get fired, a child sent home from school and a student kicked off the cheerleading team because of what grows out of their heads. Not to mention, an appeals court ruled against a lawsuit filed by the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) saying that it’s legal to refuse to hire someone because of their dreadlocks.
So yes it’s clear that a lot more work needs to be done, but regardless of how we are viewed by others, this bias against our beautiful natural locks is not our shame; it’s theirs.
BEAUTIES, do you have hair bias? Take the test here.