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Drawing on interviews with over 50 women, from teens to seniors, Hair Matters is the first book on the politics of Black hair to be based on substantive, ethnographically informed research. Focusing on the everyday discussions that Black women have among themselves and about themselves, Ingrid Banks analyzes how talking about hair reveals Black women's ideas about race, gender, sexuality, beauty, and power. Ultimately, what emerges is a survey of Black women's consciousness within both their own communities and mainstream culture at large.
"Long hair in the 60s, Afros in the early 70s, bobs in the 80s, fuschia in the 90s. Hair is one of the first attributes to catch our eye, not only because it reflects perceptions of attractivenes or unattractiveness, but also because it conveys important political, cultural, and social meanings, particularly in relation to group identity. Given that mainstream images of beauty do not privilege dark skin and tightly coiled hair, African American women's experience provides a starkly different perspective on the meaning of hair in social identity."
-National Women's Studies Association Journal,
|Introduction: Unhappy to Be Nappy||1|
|1||Why Hair Matters: Getting to the Roots||21|
|2||The Hair "Do's" and "Don'ts" of Black Womanhood||41|
|3||Splitting Hairs: Power, Choice, and Femininity||69|
|4||Women and Girls Speak Out: Five Hair-Raising Sessions||99|
|5||Black Hair, 1990s Style||139|
|App. I: Methods, Methodology, and the Shaping of Hair Matters||157|
|App. II: Defining Black Hair and Hairstyling Practices||171|
|App. III: Interviewee Demographics||175|
|About the Author||197|