The texture of the hair is just one of many distinct physical differences between racial groups. While the rate, size, shape, and texture of hair growth are unique to each individual, we can see trends between groups.
So, how do people know about hair? This blog today gives us a glimpse into the basics of hair and where it's going.
1 The first look at hair follicles
- Hair follicles are small pockets in the human scalp from which hair grows. The thickness and texture of hair depend on the size and shape of these follicles. They help shape and contour the hair as it grows.
- Hair thickness is a combination of the size of the hair follicle itself and how many follicles are on the scalp. The size of the follicle determines whether each hair is thick or thin. Larger follicles produce thicker hairs. Smaller follicles produce thin hairs.
- On average, a person's head is covered with over 100,000 hair follicles. Large numbers of follicles help make hair denser and produce a thicker feel while thinning follicles mean thinner hair.
2 Is African hair genetic?
Studies have concluded that African hair texture is genetic for two reasons.
- First, this texture is common among Africans and almost absent in other racial groups.
- Secondly, it is consistently passed on to children in all new generations.
Most people may think that highly curly hair is unique to people of African descent, but this is not the case. It is quite rare in other racial groups. So much so that when it appears in Caucasians and Asians, it is referred to as a syndrome: Trichotillomania Syndrome.
The description of trichotillomania syndrome is essentially the same as that of African hair, and dry, tightly spiraled fibers characterize the hair of people with trichotillomania syndrome. The syndrome does run strongly in families.
3 Some research on black women's hair
- New research shows that black women with natural hairstyles, such as curly Afros, braids, or twists, are often considered less professional than black women with straight hair, especially in industries where norms require more conservative practices.
- Some hair-straightening procedures can cost hundreds to thousands of dollars and lead to hair breakage, scalp disorders, and other health complications.
- When a black woman chooses to straighten her hair, it should be a personal preference, not a burden, to conform to a set of standards that can have adverse consequences. In combination with environmental factors, many genes and genetic polymorphisms determine these changes.
- To detect bias against black women with natural hair, the researchers recruited participants of different races, and black women with natural hair received lower scores for professionalism and competence. They were not recommended for interviews compared to candidates of the other three types. Researchers found that black women with straight hair and white women with curly or straight hair scored higher.
- One group saw a picture of the candidate's natural hair, while the other saw her with straight hair. The group that saw the straight-haired candidate rated her as more professional, groomed, sophisticated, and respectable. Fictitious natural-haired candidates were discriminated against when evaluated for jobs in the consulting industry, which has a more conservative dress code.
- A marketing firm valued the black hair care industry at $774 million. As a black woman's household member, it is not unusual to have a group of wig products.
4 Some new changes
- It is well known that whites are the dominant social group, and as such, professional appearance standards are often based on the physical appearance of whites.
- For women's hair, this benchmark has straightened hair. Society's prejudice against natural black hair permeates the workplace, perpetuating this discrimination.
- To most people, the impact of a woman's hairstyle may seem minimal. But for Black women, it is a serious consideration that can lead to a lack of Black representation in some organizational settings.
- However, when participants considered the profiles of women who wanted to work in advertising agencies, the candidates' hair texture did not affect perceptions of professionalism or whether they were recommended for interviews.
- Only three years ago, the U.S. Army relaxed restrictions on natural hairstyles for black soldiers.
- In recent months, several cities and states have passed laws prohibiting discrimination against natural hairstyles for blacks at work and in public schools. Federal lawmakers have drafted a similar bill prohibiting racial discrimination based on hair under U.S. law.