The Student News Site of Sonoma State University

Sonoma State Star

The Student News Site of Sonoma State University

Sonoma State Star

The Student News Site of Sonoma State University

Sonoma State Star

Students share how they learned to embrace their natural hair

Hair is one of the first features we notice about a person. In the Black community, hair is a form of expression, it is their crown.

While textured hair has become more accepted in mainstream culture, it hasn’t always been considered attractive. In fact, discrimination against textured hair can be traced back to slavery. 

During slavery, Black women were forced to cut their hair or cover it to make them less attractive to male slave owners, according to Jason Nicholas, lecturer at the University of Maryland. 

Tameka Elington states that African American’s hair was compared to animals by Whites. Hair was one of the many characteristics that was used to justify the belief that Blacks were inferior. 

Centuries after the end of slavery, the bias against Afro-textured hair still exists socially and systemically. If you ask any Black woman if they’ve ever felt insecure about their hair, almost all of them will answer yes.

Olivia Blades, a fourth year psychology major, remembers being teased in elementary school when she wore her hair in two big puffs. “They were just pointing and laughing at me and I cried”. 

Although Blades was upset by the teasing, she credits her mother for reminding her of the truth, which is that her hair is beautiful. 

“My mom told me that my hair was beautiful and that they were just jealous,” said Blades.

In 2016, Perception Institute conducted the “Good Hair” study to test implicit bias towards Afro-textured hair. The results showed that on average, white women have implicit bias towards Black women’s natural hair. The study also revealed that although all women worry about their hair, Black women experience more anxiety over their hair than white women. 

The anxieties that Black women have about their hair often leads them to take extreme measures to manipulate it in order to fit the “beauty standards”. 

Amari Houston, second year psychology student, stated that she damaged her hair at a young age by using excessive heat and wearing sew in weaves. 

Like many other Black women, these students are on an ongoing journey of embracing their natural hair. 

“To be honest, I’m still learning to love my hair,”stated Taneesha Porter, fourth year sociology and women gender studies student. 

Houston, who also recently started to embrace her hair, credits her relationship with God for helping her become more comfortable with her natural hair. 

“In order to love yourself, you have to love every part of yourself, including your hair,” stated Houston. 

Embracing hair texture looks different on everyone. It doesn’t necessarily mean that you have to wear your natural hair out everyday. There are many different styles those with textured hair can experiment with. 

“If they want to celebrate their hair by wearing bantu Knots, let them do it,” said Blades. 

“I like trying out different hairstyles with different colors that sometimes express my mood,” stated Houston. 

Blades states that the first step to embracing natural hair is by learning history. 

“My hair is my roots…my ancestors used their hair to escape slavery…so why not embrace it?” stated Porter. 

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