African American Culture Research Paper

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In this essay I will be researching and reflecting on the effects of a predominantly European/White beauty culture on minorities, specifically African American girls and women in America. Many of these women grow up within a popular culture that promotes cosmetics or fashion images of models that do not look like them or anyone in their communities. For years Black women were encouraged to manipulate their hair to conform or to meet society’s beauty standards. From an early age Black girls are bombarded with images that teach them that the straighter their hair is the better. In the Language and Girlhood: Conceptualizing Black Feminist Thought in “Happy to be Nappy”, it states that “Popular images of skin tone, hair texture, and body type have…show more content…
Silky or straight are related or directly connected to the ultimate standard of beauty in society. Some women in the African-American community at times date and procreate with others from another ethnicity to have a biracial or multicultural child as a tactic for them to have “good hair” in oppose to kinky or coarse hair. Author bell hooks explains these terms “nappy” and “good hair” in the African American community as “Real good hair is straight hair, hair like White folk’s hair. Yet no one says so. No one says your hair is so beautiful, so nice because it is like White folk’s hair…We pretend that the standards we measure our beauty by are our own invention” (hooks, 1996, p. 91)For many generations African American women have spent a lot of time and money at salons for hair treatments such as chemical relaxers and beauty supply stores for extensions. Some women even feel uncomfortable if they do not have their hair styled a certain way or installed with hair extensions; they feel that they lack a certain confidence or feel less beautiful without it. For example, the Los Angles Sentinel Newspaper recorded the experiences of Black women with natural hair. “According to a study conducted by Mintel, a consumer spending and market research firm, the number of "natural" black women (those that do not use products to chemically relax or straighten their hair) rose from 26…show more content…
“In her historical review of early 20th century advertisements, Noliwe Rooks found that the products that were advertised regularly included before and after pictures encouraging Black women to lighten their pigment and straighten their hair, if not for themselves, but for their community. These advertisements, as Rooks notes, “argue for the desirability of changing physical manifestations of ‘classic’ African features by juxtaposing the characteristics of Caucasians and Africans to highlight the advantages of disavowing the physical manifestations of an African ancestry”. Though African American women have found ways to establish a cosmetic market for ethnic hair; which led to lucrative ventures for some African American entrepreneurs’ notably Madam C.J. Walker; “… Black entrepreneurs recognized the tremendous opportunity to market and sell products to Blacks—especially women—that would similarly appeal to the need to assimilate into White culture. Madam C.J. Walker’s 1905 hair softener, which was accompanied by a hair-straightening comb (known as a hot-comb), is regarded as the first hair product developed and manufactured by, and sold to, Black people. Walker revolutionized the way Black women thought about their hair. Because she was also Black, not only did her product sanction the act of

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