More African-American Women Choosing Natural Hairstyles, Study Finds

81Our hair says a lot about us.  It can be a fashion statement.  It can be a political statement.  For African-American men and women there has been a conflict about hair. That could be changing.

According to a study in 2011, there was a 36 percent increase among African- American women who decided to do away with hair chemicals.  That means a hair style that might not conform to a certain image.

But is this a trend or is natural hair here to stay?

“Hair, going back to the origins of slavery times, hair has always been a marker of difference, has been a marker of racial difference,” said University of Delaware Professor Tiffany Gill.

Black hair politics

Traditionally what black women have done to their hair has always been read in a political way, since women wore their hair in Afros and braids during the Black Power movement but one Delaware group says there is a growing trend for women who want versatility and better overall hair care.

“You see it not just in the workplace but in magazines, on television and in commercials, so I can find more people wearing their hair more natural than anything else, so I think that I have seen a trend for that,” said Tywanda Howie.

Tywanda Howie decided to ditch hair chemicals in 2009 and started to blog about her natural experience, later forming the group Delaware Naturalistas.

Before she knew it, a network of women was following her.  Gill says while more women are going natural, companies are taking notice and even capitalizing on the natural movement by coming up with hair care products aimed at black women.

However, she says that doesn’t necessarily mean that it’s an accepted trend. ”We can think of that as sort of a victory in some ways, but also not to overshadow that there’s still discrimination against women in certain industries based on how they wear their hair,” said Gill.

Gill has written a book, “Beauty Shop Politics: African-American Women’s activism in the Beauty Industry”.

“African-American women sort of asserting their hair in its natural state is just a way to reclaim that their natural state of blackness is beautiful,” said Gill.

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