Natural Hair and Cultural Images

What is the significance of women of African descent hair styles? It’s just a hairstyle, right? Wrong! Women of African descent in United States covered their hair until ways to straighten the natural texture were discovered in 1910-14. Upon these discoveries African descent women were “expected” to straighten their hair. It was unacceptable to wear your hair naturally.

As a result of racism,  dress codes were created that said natural hairstyles were not acceptable at school, at the job, or anywhere approval was needed. Braids, a natural and cultural hairstyle, were also rejected from dress codes. This said,

” African American women must masked the texture of their hair to resemble other races’ hair texture, if they want to be presentable and accepted.”

This also defined beauty by the standards of other races. Children were raised to believe that their natural beauty was not beautiful. This was embedded into the minds of generations, and generations, and generations . . .

This induced a profound effect on the self image of African Americans. Who are we? A large percentage of displaced men, women, and children of African descent still do not know. You cannot know when you are still masking yourself.

Kenneth B. Clark performed what became known as the “Doll Test”. He and his wife, Mamie Clark, designed a test to study the psychological effects of segregation on African descent children. Without out knowing it at the time, his test also revealed the psychological effects of destroying the self image of African Americans. The children, age three to seven were presented with two dolls; one was black and the other was white.  The majority of the children gave preferences and positive characteristics to the white doll.  The children were given outlines of drawing of boys and girls and were asked to color the drawing the same color as their selves. Many children with dark complexions used white or yellow crayons to complete the image.

These children grew up accepting masked images as “their” standards of beauty.

Comments on this issue from videos posted to forwardunity:

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