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

In our third episode in our four-part collection, we’ll be diving into texturism and its impression on many Black and Latino people. We’ll additionally take a look at methods to realize extra appreciation on your naturally stunning 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 “Join Meeting” button. As you’re taking a breath, that pesky thought fights to gut-punch your self-esteem

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

If you’re not an individual of African descent, you’ll have no concept what I’m speaking about. Historically, our natural hair texture has been deemed unattractive, unprofessional, and, maybe most upsetting of all, “unkempt.” Thankfully, the pure (afro-textured) hair motion has gained momentum (on and off) over the previous few many years.

In our new docu-series “Color by WebMD: WebMD’s Exploration of Race and Mental Health,” we’ll dive into what’s often known as texturism and its impression on many Black and Latino individuals. We’ll additionally speak about methods we are able to acquire extra appreciation for our naturally stunning coils and curls.

The Four Main Hair Types

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

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

Not solely could individuals 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 adverse mild, in response to Gonlin. 

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

It Starts 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 City, 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 once 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 several areas,” she remembers.

Many individuals don’t take into account the psychological elements of getting your hair relaxed, in addition to what kind of message it might ship about what kind of hair is taken into account “engaging,” Liz says. 

“I don’t even assume that I had cognition to grasp 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 considered our hair. In school, Liz remembered displaying a buddy (who was white) numerous images of haircut types and asking her which one she ought to get.

“I bear in mind her saying to me, ‘Liz, these are all white individuals. Don’t you wish 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 wished that for myself. I began to develop into extra empowered in my very own sense of self and in my tradition,” she says.

Facial Features

Featurism is commonly much less spoken of, however it nonetheless performs a serious function in how individuals of colour are handled inside their very own communities and might have damaging results on one’s self-perception, in response to Radhika Parameswaran, PhD, affiliate dean of The Media School at Indiana University in Bloomington. Featurism facilities on how shut or far one’s bodily options are from typical Eurocentric (slim nostril, thinner lips) options. 

“If your options depart from the very kind of ‘European very best,’ then you definately’re not seen as stunning. Hence, you will have eye-altering surgeries in Japan and other people in different components of the world getting beauty surgical procedures that aid you obtain options which might be extra approximate to this ‘European very 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 School of Professional Psychology.

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

Mental Health Effects of the ‘-isms’

The psychological well being results of texturism could be seen in “essentially the most delicate 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’s a lot extra stunning than me” are commonplace with lots of her Black and Brown remedy shoppers, she says. 

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

“It’s an extremely painful place to take a seat in when somebody is hurting and in ache due to who they’re,” she says. “There’s nothing incorrect with their hair, pores and skin, or facial options. There is one thing incorrect with our society that’s privileging a Eurocentric customary of magnificence.”

Next, we’ll take a look at what’s being executed to fight colorism, featurism, and texturism. WebMD traveled to Dallas to go to the May household – two millennial dad and mom with Afro-Latina triplet women.

Their instance is a superb lesson for individuals of colour, and non-people of colour alike, on how you can sort out these dangerous thought patterns that kids can usually undertake at a younger age.

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