HealthYour (Afro-Textured) Hair Is Beautiful: The Trauma of Texturism

Your (Afro-Textured) Hair Is Beautiful: The Trauma of Texturism


In our third episode in our four-part sequence, we’ll be diving into texturism and its influence on many Black and Latino people. We’ll additionally take a look at methods to achieve extra appreciation to your naturally lovely coils and curls. 

Dec. 1, 2022 – It’s your first day of labor at a brand new job, and also you’re a bundle of nerves and pleasure. Your hand goes to press the “Be a part of Assembly” button. As you’re taking a breath, that pesky thought fights to gut-punch your shallowness

“What message will my hair ship to my new colleagues?”

When you’re not an individual of African descent, you will have no thought what I’m speaking about. Traditionally, our pure hair texture has been deemed unattractive, unprofessional, and, maybe most upsetting of all, “unkempt.” Fortunately, the pure (afro-textured) hair motion has gained momentum (on and off) over the previous few a long time.

In our new docu-series “Colour by WebMD: WebMD’s Exploration of Race and Psychological Well being,” we’ll dive into what’s generally known as texturism and its influence on many Black and Latino folks. We’ll additionally speak about methods we will achieve extra appreciation for our naturally lovely coils and curls.

The 4 Foremost Hair Sorts

Texturism – or discrimination primarily based on how shut or far your pure hair is to European (nice, straight) tresses – might be commonplace inside many communities of colour, in line with Vanessa Gonlin, PhD, an assistant sociology professor on the College of Georgia. To assist clarify the place and the way texturism works, she breaks down the 4 principal hair textures.

  • Sort one: Straight hair
  • Sort two: Wavy hair
  • Sort three: Curly hair
  • Sort 4: Coily or coarse [afro-textured] hair

Not solely could folks inside your racial group deal with you poorly primarily based in your afro-textured hair texture, however these exterior your race can also view afro-textured hair in a destructive gentle, in line with Gonlin. 

“I’ve sort 3 hair, and I’ve by no means been involved that I’d have a tough time at a job interview due to my pure hair,” she says. “However I do know different individuals who have coily, sort 4 hair who do have that concern.”

It Begins Early 

As somebody born with afro-textured hair, I’ve a powerful connection to texturism – and so does my sister, Liz Davis, a licensed marriage and household therapist in Kansas Metropolis, KS. Liz traveled to the WebMD workplace in Atlanta, and we mentioned how texturism affected our self-concept with out us totally realizing it. Liz says a few of her earliest, most traumatic experiences surrounding hair occurred after we went to magnificence salons to get our hair relaxed, or chemically straightened.

“I simply bear in mind my scalp getting burned and scabbing up in numerous areas,” she recollects.

Many individuals don’t contemplate the psychological components of getting your hair relaxed, in addition to what sort of message it may well ship about what sort of hair is taken into account “enticing,” Liz says. 

“I don’t even assume that I had cognition to know that my hair texture was being modified.”

Liz and I additionally talked about what it was like rising up in predominantly white communities, and the way a lot Eurocentric requirements of magnificence influenced how we seen our hair. In faculty, Liz remembered displaying a good friend (who was white) varied pictures of haircut kinds and asking her which one she ought to get.

“I bear in mind her saying to me, ‘Liz, these are all white folks. Don’t you need to choose a coiffure that’s consultant of you and your pores and skin colour and your tradition?’” Liz says.

Liz started researching Black, pure hair content material creators on social media who speak about their pure hair journeys, in addition to share about how they’re caring for their afro-textured curls.

“I needed that for myself. I began to turn into extra empowered in my very own sense of self and in my tradition,” she says.

Facial Options

Featurism is usually much less spoken of, nevertheless it nonetheless performs a significant position in how folks of colour are handled inside their very own communities and may have damaging results on one’s self-perception, in line with Radhika Parameswaran, PhD, affiliate dean of The Media College at Indiana College in Bloomington. Featurism facilities on how shut or far one’s bodily options are from typical Eurocentric (slender nostril, thinner lips) options. 

“In case your options depart from the very kind of ‘European best,’ then you definately’re not seen as lovely. Therefore, you’ve got eye-altering surgical procedures in Japan and folks in different elements of the world getting beauty surgical procedures that make it easier to obtain options which can be extra approximate to this ‘European best,’” she says.

This phenomenon is widespread inside many Latino communities, says Nayeli Y. Chavez-Dueñas, PhD, a licensed scientific psychologist and professor at The Chicago College of Skilled Psychology.

“For instance, if an individual has gentle pores and skin and a large nostril, then there may be nonetheless that stereotype with feedback like, ‘Your pores and skin colour is gorgeous, however take a look at your nostril,’” she says. 

Psychological Well being Results of the ‘-isms’

The psychological well being results of texturism might be seen in “probably the most refined methods,” Liz says. Statements like “I don’t like my pores and skin. I don’t like my hair. I hate social media as a result of everybody on there may be a lot extra lovely than me” are commonplace with a lot of her Black and Brown remedy shoppers, she says. 

When Liz asks for examples of those “exceptionally lovely” folks, they’re sometimes photos of lighter-skinned folks of colour, with looser curl patterns and Eurocentric options. 

“It’s an extremely painful place to sit down in when somebody is hurting and in ache due to who they’re,” she says. “There’s nothing mistaken with their hair, pores and skin, or facial options. There’s something mistaken with our society that’s privileging a Eurocentric commonplace of magnificence.”

Subsequent, we’ll take a look at what’s being accomplished to fight colorism, featurism, and texturism. WebMD traveled to Dallas to go to the Might household – two millennial mother and father with Afro-Latina triplet ladies.

Their instance is a good lesson for folks of colour, and non-people of colour alike, on how you can deal with these dangerous thought patterns that youngsters can usually undertake at a younger age.


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