Good Hair...Bad Hair: How Beauty Standards Affect the Self-Esteem of Girls of Color

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Presentation made at the KAIS Middle School Students of Color Conference in Louisville, KY. …

Presentation made at the KAIS Middle School Students of Color Conference in Louisville, KY.

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  • 1. Good Hair…Bad Hair
    • How Beauty Standards Affect the
    • Self-Esteem of Girls of Color
  • 2. Why Is Hair So Important? People all over the world see hair as important. Our hair is one of the first things others notice about us and one of the primary ways we declare our identity to others. We have terms like “Good Hair Day” to describe how our hair makes us feel when it behaves the way we want and we feel attractive. Consequently, “Bad Hair Days” describe how we feel when nothing about our hair makes us feel good. That one aspect of our appearance can negatively affect our mood for the rest of the day. The fact that hair is connected to identity and self-esteem is especially true for women. A widely held belief is that a woman’s hair is her “crowning glory.” It is something that everyone sees and sometimes leads people to make personal judgments about us.
  • 3. Good Hair A documentary by Chris Rock
  • 4. Hair & Self-Esteem at School Often an underrepresented group in their schools, many girls are very conscious of their hair style and appearance. If they wear their hair in braids, twists, or other culturally specific styles, they may attract curiosity and attention from classmates. This can create positive interactions with peers, but also may lead some girls to have self-esteem issues in a desire to “fit in”. Hair can be a sensitive issue for girls of color in an independent school setting.
  • 5. My Hair Journey Here are some pictures of me growing up. When I was little my mom “pressed and curled” my hair to make it straight. I felt good about my hair for the most part because it was always thick and somewhat long. I remember being told I had “good hair” by family members. Age 2 “Why are you taking my picture” Kindergarten Rockin’ the plaits 4th Grade Press & curl
  • 6. My Hair Journey With a press and curl, water and humidity was always the enemy. I remember on my 5th grade overnight field trip, I was worried about fixing my own hair. My friends thought it was funny that my hair got “wild”, but I was embarrassed. 5th Grade My typical look 5th Grade Trip I REALLY didn’t want my picture taken.
  • 7. The Hair Disaster When I was in 7th grade, my hair journey took an ugly turn which had a profound effect on my self-esteem in school. All of it was due to my desire to look like my teen idol, the biggest pop star in the world… Michael Jackson
  • 8. Michael Jackson The biggest pop star of the 80’s, Michael Jackson had millions of fans world wide. His album Thriller is still one of the top selling albums of all time.
  • 9. Beat It by Michael Jackson
  • 10. So What Happened? After my hair started breaking off badly, my dad finally clipped my hair and left me with a two inch afro.
  • 11. So What Happened? Instead of feeling like this…. I felt like this….
  • 12. Beauty Standards Beauty standards are the criteria a society uses to determine what is attractive and what is not. This standards are sometimes unrealistic and may make those whose looks do not reflect the standard feel ugly and have poor self-esteem. Disney’s Sleeping Beauty
  • 13. Good Hair A documentary by Chris Rock
  • 14. How Do We Judge Beauty? Alek Wek Gisele Bundchen
  • 15. Is One Standard of Beauty Fair? Women from cultures around the world struggle to fit into the Western standard of beauty. Some extreme examples are… Painful surgeries to “westernize” eye shape are becoming common in parts of Asia. In India, ads for “skin lightening” creams tell women they will be more attractive and happy with “fairer” or lighter skin.
  • 16. Still on the Journey I wore braids and let my hair grow naturally for two years… I decided to go back to relaxing…for now
  • 17. Hair Types Part of feeling good about ourselves as related to hair, is understanding the differences between difference types of hair. Then we can give our hair the care it needs to look its best. Our hair characteristics are inherited from our parents, just like eye and skin color. One system of hair typing was developed by Andre Walker, stylist to Oprah Winfrey. In his system, hair can be described as one of four types. Each of these types can be found in all types of people and are not limited to one race or ethnicity. In fact, you can have more than one hair type on a single person’s head!
  • 18. Type 1 Hair Type 1 hair is described as straight. The hair shaft is round and the cuticles (or layers) are smooth, so it reflects light well and has a lot of shine. Because it doesn’t have any bends in the strands, scalp oils can move easily down the strand, giving this hair type a tendency to appear oily if not washed regularly.
  • 19. Type 2 Hair Type 2 or wavy hair is a relatively unusual type. It tends to be coarse, with a definite "S" pattern to it. That means the wave forms throughout the hair in the shape of the letter "S". Your hair is wavy, or Type 2, if it curves in the "S" shape while laying flat against the scalp, instead of standing away from the head the way curly hair does. Type 2A is very easy to handle, blowing out into a straighter style or taking on curlier looks with relative ease.
  • 20. Type 3 Hair With curly hair, there is a definite loopy "S" pattern. If you pluck out a hair and stretch it out, it looks like a stretched-out Slinky. Most people think curly hair is coarse, but actually it is usually baby soft and very fine in texture – there's just a lot of it. Because the cuticle layers don't like as flat, curly hair isn't as shiny as straight or wavy hair. The hair doesn't have a very smooth surface, so light doesn't reflect off of it as much. When curly hair is wet, is usually straightens out. As it dries, it absorbs the water and contracts to its curliest state. Those of you with Type 3 hair know all too well that humidity makes curly hair even curlier, or even frizzier. Damaged Type 3 hair is usually frizzy, dull, hard and dry to the touch, with fuzzy, ill-defined curls.
  • 21. Type 4 Hair Type 4 hair is very tightly curled, sometimes called “kinky”. This texture does not exhibit the shine or silkiness of looser type curls, but instead has sheen, and a soft, almost cotton-like feel. Type 4 hairs looks tough and durable, it is the MOST fragile hair around. Why? Type 4 hair has fewer cuticle layers than any other hair type, which means that it has less natural protection from the damage from combing, brushing, curling, blow-drying and straightening it. The more cuticle layers in a single strand of hair, the more protection it has from damage. Each time you damage your hair – use a curling iron, treat it with chemicals – you break down a cuticle layer, removing much- needed moisture. It's like taking a wire and bending it again and again. Eventually, it's going to snap and break.
  • 22. Type 4 Hair Many women with Type 4 hair rely on chemical relaxers to make hair easier to control. As with other types of curly hair, showing the true length can be an extra challenge, as the hair may grow “up” or “out” before starting to hang down. In its natural state, Type 4 hair is known to shrink up to 75% of the actual hair length. With the proper care and technique, Type 4 hair is indeed resilient, manageable, durable, growable and easy to control.
  • 23. A Girl Like Me
  • 24. Appreciating Ourselves The best way to refrain from judging others is to stop criticizing ourselves. Feeling confident in your style also will help others see your beauty. When we understand our unique differences and become comfortable with our appearance, then will be able to see the beauty in ourselves.
  • 25. I Am Not My Hair By India.Arie (featuring Akon)