Hair Matters: Beauty, Power, and Black Women's Consciousness

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Overview

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 attractiveness 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 rightly coiled hair, African American women's experience provides a starkly different perspective on the meaning of hair in social identity.

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.

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Editorial Reviews

Women Studies Association Journal
Introduces the audience to consider the value of the insider/outsider relationship in another's culture.
Library Journal
For this discussion on the politics of black hair, Banks, a professor of black studies at Virginia Tech, interviewed over 50 women, from teens to seniors, to determine how hair shapes ideas about race, gender, sexuality, beauty, and power. Copyright 1999 Cahners Business Information.
From the Publisher

"Introduces the audience to consider the value of the insider/outsider relationship in another's culture"

-National Women's Studies Association Journal,

"Introduces the audience to consider the value of the insider/outsider relationship in another's culture"

-National Women's Studies Association Journal,

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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780814713372
  • Publisher: New York University Press
  • Publication date: 10/1/2000
  • Edition description: New Edition
  • Pages: 224
  • Product dimensions: 6.00 (w) x 9.00 (h) x 0.51 (d)

Meet the Author

Ingrid Banks is Assistant Professor of Black Studies in the Center for Interdisciplinary Studies at Virginia Tech.

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Table of Contents

Acknowledgements
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
Conclusion 147
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
Notes 179
References 185
Index 193
About the Author 197
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