Straight hair (May be un-PC)

Now, I don’t actually have any black friends to ask, or at least any I could possibly ask this question, so I guess I’ll have to hide behind my screen name. :slight_smile:

Do black people like straight hair?

Now, I’m ethnic Chinese, and have hair as straight as you can imagine. I realise that black people generally have curly hair, as in really really right curly hair, to the point that they have to braid it up of have afros or whatever. But do they find straight hair undesireable, or otherwise less preferable?

Personally, all that curly stuff kinda puts me off. I can’t imagine myself having an afro, and would probably prefer a partner without one. That said, I wondered to myself - do the blacks think the same thing about me? That it’s such a pity I’ve got flat straight hair like that, without any shape?

I would imagine hair preference to be linked to social values, so maybe I was just being biased, but I then realised that models generally have straight hair as well, so it’s not a chinese thing.

Thus, the question. ;j <- only smiley with hair

Are you specifically asking about black Americans?

Assuming you are, black Americans are like any other group of Americans. Their preferences vary from individual to individual. Some like bone-striaght hair, some like a kinky wave, some like corkscrew curls, some like body waves, some like shaved heads…I think you see where I’m going with this.

Well, not actually black americans in particular, since I’m actually residing in the UK at the moment. Where I haven’t seen a single black person with straight hair. Is straight hair on black people common in the US? More or less as common as straight hair on, um, not so black people?

It is fairly common, although not so common as it used to be. (Or maybe my moving from the South Side to the North Side was the change.) When I was young, I remember my black friends’ grandmothers scolding them for their “ugly knappy hair” and they were all dragged to the beauty parlor for “permanents,” or chemical straightening. (I never thought it looked all that nice straightened, myself. Chemically straightened, it doesn’t have the bounce and volume that naturally straight hair has.) Nowadays, most of my black women friends have braids, twists or cornrolls that make me jealous.

Well, UrbanChic is correct that blacks are individuals too, and it’s pretty much personal preference.

Now, that said… there is a rather large market for cosmetic products in the US for straightening black hair.

And an even larger market for prodcuts to curl white hair.

So if there’s a generalization to be made, it could be that there will always be interest in changing one’s lot in life, at least when it comes to hair.

(And before you bemoan your hair lot, let me state one of my preferences. I personally find the long straight, glossy raven black hair of Asian women and some Latina women very appealing. As well as Catherine Zeta Jones’ and Connie Selleca’s hair.)

Oh, and I should point out that there have been quite a few black women celebrities with straightened hair… or, more commonly, straightened and then permed.

Beyonce, Oprah, Natalie Cole, Queen Latifah… I could go on.

I feel comfortable saying that no, black people in general DON’T have a strong distate for straight hair on other people, at least not in my experience.

At least you’re over there in the UK, though.

Ok, that was hardly coherent. :frowning:

I think many black people fear their natural hair texture, to be honest.

I got my first perm (straightening perm, not the curling perm that straight-haired folks get) before I can even remember. My mother had an aversion to “naps”, I guess. I didn’t know anything about my natural hair until I got to college and let my hair grow out. I then discovered that my real hair, while a handful to care for, is lovable.

You will find that most black women have straightened hair. I think this stems from a myriad of reasons.

  1. Straight hair is easier to style and care for than curly hair, especially kinky hair. When my hair was long, it would take hours to comb through.

2)In American society, at least, women tend to aspire to a European aesthetic (thin bodies, light skin, pointy facial features, straight hair). The “beautiful” black women given much fanfare–the Tyra Banks, Halle Berrys, and Vanessa Williams’s–are Europeanesque in their features. Femimine beauty has always been associated with hair that swings and blows in the wind (look at those damn Pantene commercials for evidence). Also, braids, locks, and afros are not as mainstream as other hairstyles. I know a black woman who was warned at work that she had to get rid of her braids because they were too “ethnic”.

3)It takes a bit of bravery to grow out relaxed hair. If you have long relaxed hair, it becomes almost necessary to chop it off if you want to start over. So not only do you have to deal with the unusualness of very curly hair, but then you’ll have to deal with very short hair and the style limitations inherent therein. I think for this reason, many black people are addicted to the “creamy crack”. They may want to break free from it, but it’s not an easy thing to do.

So if we’re generalizing, I’d say that the answer to your question is “No.” Most black people do not have an aversion to straight hair. In fact, very many have a preference.

:confused: :confused: :confused: :confused: :confused:

What strange part of the UK are you in? Around here it would be hard to find young black women who don’t have either dead-straight hair or braids.

I didn’t even know there were black people in he UK. I thought they the closet thing they had were African and Jamaican immigrants…

(That is a joke, right?..)


Heh heh, good. I’ve had to fight that level of ignorance in the past, and it wasn’t enjoyable!

What do you mean, though? I was actually only joking in the sense that I being overly obtuse. But I really do wonder why there are “black people” in the UK when it can’t really mean anything politically since the people it refers to come from a bunch of different countries that don’t have much to do with each other. You’ve argued with people who’ve shared that sentiment before?

Actually, the statistic that I generally hear thrown around is that despite being about an eighth of the population, we buy about a third of the hair care products in this country.

That said, I would agree that the statement from the OP “I would imagine hair preference to be linked to social values” is true. And the social value for I’d say most black Americans over age 25 is that their hair in its natural state is ugly. So, no, I would not say that most black people have an aversion to straight hair, in fact, the opposite is probably more true.

The population of my area of London is about 20% black (either Afro-Caribbean or African). I notice women everyday with (often elaborate) chemically-straightened hair or artificial hair extensions. It seems even more common as naturally curly hair, for women in their 20s and above.

An article in last Saturday’s Guardian by their excellent black beauty columnist, Hannah Pool, recounted a story of a friend of her’s who works for a legal firm being taken aside and asked to have her hair done “properly” - she was wearing it in cornrows. She then goes to suggest that the vast majority of black professionals feel pressure to wear their hair straightened (women), or closely cropped (men). This certainly seems to be the case amongst the black people I work with - the only black person I know with a natural hairstyle is a musician with a magnificent afro! Which, although I appreciate that how you wear your hair is a highly personal thing, I think is a shame. But then I’m a curly-haired white women waging a one-woman war against straight hair facism! Free the curl, people!

:eek: What? WHAT?!?! That’s absolutely bizarre.

What did this woman do? Did she get rid of her braids? Did she threaten to sue? What? I have to find out.

That really is strange. I’m living in the WC1 (um, it’s a postal code. Oh dear.) area, bordering on E. I walk down Kingsway everyday, and I swear I haven’t seen a single black person with straight hair. Hm.

Will do an informal survey today. Hm.