A recently release study by the Perception Institute found that Black women who embrace their natural hair texture face more bias than other women. For whatever reason, Americans of all races have an issue with Black hair that is kinky and coily.
The study, titled: “The ‘Good Hair’ Study: Explicit and Implicit Attitudes Toward Black Women’s Hair,” questioned 4,163 people, both women and men, about their perceptions regarding the way Black women wear their hair. Included in the study was 688 women who consider themselves “naturalistas” and take part in online natural hair forums.
People were asked about their implicit and explicit biases when it came to natural Black hair. Where implicit bias is when a person might not even know they feel a certain way and explicit bias being able to directly express your feelings openly.
Some of the takeaways from the study were: Black women still feel stigmatized when it comes to their natural hair texture. Black females from the millennial generation embrace their natural hair more than all women sampled. And Black women who rock their hair naturally have a more positive impression about their hair versus all the women who were questioned.
On the other hand, when white women were asked about their opinions regarding Black women’s natural hair, they rated it less professional than “smooth” hair, less beautiful, and less attractive.
The study also exposed the fact that Black women have a lot more anxiety about their hair than white women do. Black women were more prone to skip exercise because of not wanting to ruin their hair. Black women spend more time and money on their hair than white women do. And 20% of Black women felt pressured to straighten their hair for work, while only 10% of white women felt that way.
To see how implicit bias affects the views of both men and women, they were given the Hair Implicit Association Test, which gauges their reaction time and responses to questions about Black women’s natural hair. The results of the test showed that both men and women across all races have negative views towards so-called ‘kinky’ hair. When the question was posed to white ‘naturalistas,’ they had a neutral reaction to Black women’s natural hair but they still showed a preference towards smooth, straight hair on Black women.
In a statement regarding the results of the study, Alexis McGill Johnson, who is the co-founder and executive director of the Perception Institute, said “Many black women will feel affirmed by the Good Hair Study—it is what they have always known and experienced: wearing natural hairstyles has deep political and social implications. Our hope is that those who create the images we see in our daily lives will consider how bias against natural hair can undermine the ability for black women to be their full selves and affect their professional trajectory, social life and self-esteem.”
If you’re interested in seeing where you are on the bias scale, click this link.