Hair Matters

Beauty, Power, and Black Women's Consciousness

Ingrid Banks

NYU Press (publisher)

Long hair in the 60s, Afros in the early 70s, bobs in the 80s, fuschia in the 90s. Hair is one of the first attributes to catch our eye, not only because it reflects perceptions of attractiveness or unattractiveness, but also because it conveys important political, cultural, and social meanings, particularly in relation to group identity. Given that mainstream images of beauty do not privilege dark skin and tightly coiled hair, African American women's experience provides a starkly different perspective on the meaning of hair in social identity."
--National Women's Studies Association Journal
"Grab your copy at your local bookseller and get hip to what your hair is saying to others with regards to beauty, culture and politics. Learn about how culture has a love for coifs, because after all, so do you!"—Sophisticate's Black Hair Styles Guide
Drawing on interviews with over 50 women, from teens to seniors, Hair Matters is the first book on the politics of Black hair to be based on substantive, ethnographically informed research. Focusing on the everyday discussions that Black women have among themselves and about themselves, Ingrid Banks analyzes how talking about hair reveals Black women's ideas about race, gender, sexuality, beauty, and power. Ultimately, what emerges is a survey of Black women's consciousness within both their own communities and mainstream culture at large.

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