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 achieve extra appreciation on 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 are taking a breath, that pesky thought fights to gut-punch your self-esteem

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

In case you’re not an individual of African descent, you could have no thought what I’m speaking about. Traditionally, our natural 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 “Coloration by WebMD: WebMD’s Exploration of Race and Psychological Well being,” we’ll dive into what’s generally known as texturism and its impression on many Black and Latino individuals. We’ll additionally speak about methods we will acquire extra appreciation for our naturally lovely coils and curls.

The 4 Predominant Hair Sorts

Texturism – or discrimination based mostly on how shut or far your pure hair is to European (positive, straight) tresses – will be commonplace inside many communities of colour, in response to 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 foremost 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 individuals inside your racial group deal with you poorly based mostly in your afro-textured hair texture, however these exterior your race may additionally view afro-textured hair in a adverse gentle, in response to Gonlin. 

“I’ve sort 3 hair, and I’ve by no means been involved that I’d have a troublesome 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 robust 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 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 numerous areas,” she remembers.

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

“I don’t even suppose 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 considered our hair. In school, Liz remembered displaying a pal (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 individuals. Don’t you need to decide 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 out to be extra empowered in my very own sense of self and in my tradition,” she says.

Facial Options

Featurism is usually 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 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 type of ‘European excellent,’ then you definitely’re not seen as lovely. Therefore, you’ve got eye-altering surgeries in Japan and other people in different elements of the world getting beauty surgical procedures that enable you obtain options which are extra approximate to this ‘European excellent,’” she says.

This phenomenon is widespread inside many Latino communities, says Nayeli Y. Chavez-Dueñas, PhD, a licensed medical 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’s 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 will 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’s a lot extra lovely than me” are commonplace with a lot of her Black and Brown remedy purchasers, she says. 

When Liz asks for examples of those “exceptionally lovely” individuals, they’re sometimes photos 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’s something incorrect with our society that’s privileging a Eurocentric customary of magnificence.”

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

Their instance is a superb lesson for individuals of colour, and non-people of colour alike, on easy methods to sort out these dangerous thought patterns that youngsters can typically undertake at a younger age.


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