BUOR Beauty News Vol. XV - Page 7

“Statement from Alexis McGill Johnson, Co-Founder and Executive Director of Perception Institute: “The beauty industry has long offered us ways to find our best selves. But how is it challenging us to see the best in each other – without bias? 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. Moreover, we hope to encourage researchers to use intersectional approach to design new metrics, such as the Hair IAT, to drive new and nuanced conversations.”

The study suggests that a majority of people, regardless of race and gender, hold some bias towards women of color based on their hair. It also offers promising evidence that the effects of bias can be overridden.

Millennials showed far more positive attitudes toward textured hair than their older counterparts, while a majority of black “naturalistas” showed either no bias or a slight preference for textured hair.

Some key insights from the report include:

Black women in the natural hair community have more positive implicit and explicit attitudes toward textured hair than all other women, but they nonetheless perceive the social stigma of wearing natural hair.

Black women experience more anxiety related to their hair and greater social and financial burden of hair maintenance than white women. Black women are twice as likely to report social pressure to straighten their hair at work compared to white women.

Millennial “naturalistas” have more positive attitudes toward textured hair than all other women. This is consistent with past studies showing that millennials identify as progressive, confident, self-expressive, and open to change.

White women demonstrate the strongest bias -- both explicit and implicit -- against textured hair, rating it as less beautiful, less sexy/attractive, and less professional than smooth hair. However, white women who engage regularly with naturalista communities have lower levels of bias.

The “Good Hair” Survey also explored the concerns, social pressures and experiences women have related to their own hair. We found:

Almost all women worry about their hair to some extent; black women experience high levels of anxiety more than white women.

One in three black women report that their hair is the reason they haven’t exercised, compared to one in ten white women.

 One in five black women feel social pressure to straighten their hair for work — twice as many as white women.

Black women are more likely to report spending more time on their hair than white women.

Black women are more likely to report having professional styling appointments more often than white women.

Black women are more likely to report spending more money on products for their hair than white women.

One in four black women have difficulty finding products for their hair—more than half have not been able to find products for their hair.”

The survey assessed women’s explicit attitudes toward black women’s hair, hair anxiety, and experiences related to their own hair, and the Hair IAT assessed implicit attitudes toward black women’s hair.

What’s Your Hair Bias? Go to Take the Hair IAT & to learn more What is “Good Hair”? https://perception.org/goodhair/

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Good Hair..........The Study