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Africa America Women’s Hair and Their Self-Esteem, Research Proposal Example

Pages: 6

Words: 1726

Research Proposal

Background

In the American culture, female beauty ideal remain decidedly narrowly and relatively white. The physical manifestation of beauty among the African American women have been debated and contested for centuries. Black women were generally seen as vile, inhuman, and unattractive, at the same time black women were treated as object for sexual favors among powerful white men. The broad nose, brown skin, full lips, large buttocks, and wiry hair of African American women have been seen as abhorrent over the history of united state. Not until recently, Images of black women as mummy sugars, shaven head, or tight short braid was the visual representation of the black women.

In the modern era, black women are increasingly seen as legitimate and rival beauties to other women of color. This is evidenced by the increased representation of African American women in the media and popular press. While these images of black women continue to be more present, black women in America continue to be objectified, dismembered and portrayed as unnatural.  America has had a first lady who is African America. Many black women grace the cover pages of a fashion magazine, and popular network television network. Increasingly black woman is accepting them self and presenting themselves to the world in their natural beauty state. However, one important thing to note is that the media and celebrities celebrate black women who successively achieve the white beauty ideal. This western standard of beauty has benefited women who are measured by this standard.  Hooks, 2013 state that being beautiful allows for more opportunities and alleviates some stressors. Therefore, Women can access social capital through their hair. In addition, certain women are rewarded socially for their straight hair, as it is associated with the dominant culture. Thus, being beautiful improve the women self-esteem.

The study will explore the meaning of changes in African American feeling about themselves as they continue to wear a different hairstyle.

  1. The research asks the following question does the hairstyle among the African American women affect their self-esteem.
  2. Are women assigned a particular personality due to their hair style, how hair is associated with personality

Research hypothesis

The research hypothesizes that ‘women who have manipulated their hair have higher level of self-esteem’.

Definition of terms

The following term are defined as used in the study:

  1. Women- a biologically adult female human
  2. African American: the term is used to refer to culturally constricted group of people of African ancestry.
  3. Natural hair – non-synthetic hair that grows from one skull and is not thematically or chemically straightened.
  4. Self-esteem- is related to being able to accept oneself as good enough.

Objective

The purpose of the study is to determine the relationship between the hair style and self-esteem among the African American women.

Expectation of the study

The research will be interested in the African Americans women relationship with their hair and its impact on their identity, decision about wearing the hair in its natural state or manipulating it, feeling about themselves and discrimination.

The finding from the study will be used to inform social service providers and educators on how to relate better to African American women and to facilitate more culturally responsive practice. In addition, The study finding will demonstrate the critical role that the hair plays in the lived experience of African America women.

Description of the problem

Since Africans were forcefully brought to America the African beauty, body and hair have been racialised. Normally the European features are the accepted standards of beauty. Tightly coiled terse were considered deplorable when pitted against the long straight type of European hair. History shows common trends in repressing African hair since their arrival in America. This form of oppression has impacted negatively on the lives of African Americans, including their self-esteem.  An exhaustive research body has revealed that racial identity and self-esteem are positively correlated thus the study explore the  correlation between the hair style and self-esteem among African American woman so as to in their positive identity development.

The media and mainstream cultural messages have played a great role in challenging the African American women as inadequate in their natural and unaltered way. Moreover, that complete acceptance of oneself as beautiful and worthy naturally is seen as an act of resistance. For these reasons, African American women tend to alter their hair, to meet the standard set by them by mainstream society. African women appear to model themselves for mainstream society on how to love and accept them. Altering their hair by chemical and thermal straightening is thus believed to make them feel good about them self and thus improve their self-esteem. Whether this is true or fallacy, the issue has not been adequately explored in the academic literature.

Literature review

Black and self-esteem

According  to Allen, & Bagozzi, 2005, high self-esteem is associated with  positive psychological well-being and negatively associated with depression, helplessness, and hopelessness. Charney, (2013), suggests that positive self-esteem and black people is a factor of isolation from the mainstream cultural value. Moreover, as more black people become more middle class they are likely to take on the values, body images and self-esteem levels of that is found, in general, white population.

Africa and hair

According to Baldwin, (2013), Hair is important to women in many culture, however, it has been particularly meaningful to women of African descent.  Goodstein,& Ponterotto, 2007 state that, hair is an important site of symbolic meaning. In African society, hair has been used to express creativity, personalities and social status(Charney, 2013).  Many scholars have agreed that hair can be the reflection of person social status, personality, lifestyle, and sexuality (Gordon, 2012).

African American and the hairstyle

According to Grantham, & Ford, 2005, different hair style were popular during different time.  For instance, Baldwin, 2013, found that, Cornrow and plaits were popular in the 80s. Afro and natural style become popular in the 90s. Since then many other styles have been available for African American women, that is, natural, culled, faded, twisted, and corn-rowed.  According to Gray-Litt, & Hafdahl,2010, African America placed diverse meaning on each style. Of recently, the practice of hair straightening is more popular among the black women in America. Although some scholar has argued that hair straightening was an attempt to look white, other believes that  it had nothing to do with the desire to look white. The style now considered by black community as an appropriate style.

The standard of beauty

African America women defines themselves by white beauty standards(Hall, 2005)..  On this scale, kinky hair, dark brown skin, wide noses represent ugliness. Similarly straight hair, and white skin represent beauty (Harris, 2013)..Through the media and magazine, black woman has been defined as sexual rather than beautiful.  The view was created during slavery when white slave owner sought to demean African features such as dark skin and kinky hair to further demoralize them. This culture of white beauty attacked blackness and black sense of beauty (Harris, 2013).

Hall, 2005, state that, the white beauty myth was a political weapon used to exert control over the western women. Moreover, the  value of what is and is not beautiful  is an instrument of control and disqualification.  The idea that there is good and bad hair is a beauty myth that has created limited and false image of women to women.  Focusing on the aspect of the hair, straight hair has been promoted as the standard.  For this reason, some women feel pleasured to purchase hair extension in order to get long and straight hair. Moreover, European and French hair is considered as the most expensive.

According to the European standard of beauty, there is good and bad hair. In this regard, good hair is considered the hair closest to white people’s hair- long, straight, shiny, silky and manageable (Hooks, 2013). On the other hand, bad hair is short, coarse and wooly.  This idea of good and bad hair was created during the colonial era. The association of good hair with whites and bad hair with blacks is a Eurocentric ideal stemming from slavery that placed social status on hair in united state.

Social and cultural capital

According to Killoran, Jarrett& Zimmer, 2010, beauty functions are dense transfer point relation of power. Therefore, the social preference to straight hair that exists gives power to those with straight hair. Hooks, 2013 state that being beautiful allows for more opportunities and alleviates some stressors. Therefore, Women can access social capital through their hair. In addition, certain women are rewarded socially for their straight hair, as it is associated with the dominant culture.

Conclusion

Black women with straight hair can change their class identity.  Hair has power to create and limit social, cultural mobility for black women because it affects their perceived racial identity. Beautify of hair according to the western standard has benefited women in the united state.  This western standard of beauty has benefited women who are measured by this standard.  Hooks, 2013 state that being beautiful allows for more opportunities and alleviates some stressors. Therefore, Women can access social capital through their hair. In addition, certain women are rewarded socially for their straight hair, as it is associated with the dominant culture. We can therefore conclude that being beautiful improve the women self-esteem.

References

Allen, R.L. & Bagozzi, R.L. (2005). Consequences of the black sense of self. Journal of Black Psychology, 27 (1), 3-28.

Baldwin, J. (2013). The fire next time. New York: Random House.

Charney, M. (2013). James Baldwin’s Quarrel with Richard Wright. American Quarterly, 15(1), 65-75.

Goodstein, R., & Ponterotto, J. G. (2007). Racial and ethnic identity: Their relationship and their contribution to self-esteem. Journal of Black Psychology, 23 (3), 275-292.

Gordon, L.R. (2012). A questioning body of laughter and tears: Reading black skin, whiteMask through the cat and mouse of reason and misguided theodicy. Parallax, 8 (2), 10-29.

Grantham, T. G., & Ford, D.Y. (2005). Beyond the self-concept and self-esteem: Racial Identity and gifted American students. High School Journal, 87 (1), 18-29.

Gray-Little, B., & Hafdahl, A.R. (2010). Factors influencing racial comparisons of self-esteem: A quantitative review. Psychological Bulletin, 126 (1), 26-54.

Hall, C.C. (2005). Beauty is in the soul of the beholder: Psychological implications of beauty and African American women. CulturaDiversity and Mental Health, 1 (2), 125-137.

Harris, M. D. (2013). Colored pictures: Race and visual representations. London: The University of North Carolina Press.

Hooks, B. (2013). Rock my soul: Black people and self-esteem. New York: Atria Books

Hunter, M. (2008). Colorstruck: Skin color stratification in the lives of African American women. Sociological Inquiry, 68 (4), 517-535.

Killoran, J., Jarrett, M., & Zimmer, S. (2010). The key to understanding U.S. history andgovernment. New York: Jarrett Publishing Company.

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