Date of Award

Spring 2019

Document Type

Open Access Thesis



First Advisor

Kimberly Eison Simmons


In the 21st century, African American women are challenging the stereotypes and limitations of who or what defines beauty. More African American women are cutting off their relaxed tresses and starting anew with the natural roots that was inherited from their African ancestors. The recent transition challenges post-colonial ideas of what it means to have good or bad hair through the empowerment of Black men and women. Rooted within the Black Power and Black is Beautiful movements of the 1970s, African American women are no longer accepting or tolerating how someone else will define their hair. By altering their kinky, coily, and curly texture for straighter hair styles, African American women were erasing markers of their African identities through chemically altering the hair texture or opting for styles mimicking the western standard of beauty. Altering the natural appearance of their hair textures was in response to discrimination towards African American women for wearing the natural appearance or maintenance of their kinky, curly, and textured hairstyles. With the reemergence of the Natural Hair Movement, Black women are embracing their identity and their natural hair texture’s appearance through the conceptualization of Afrocentricity. African American women are reclaiming and reemerging their African identity through the aesthetic expression of natural hair. This research will examine how African American women experience intersectional oppression while also analyzing how the reemergence of natural hair displays the foundation for a new social and cultural movement.

Included in

Anthropology Commons