Though the natural hair movement is booming, naturalistas are still fighting the good fight when it comes to our tresses. Our kinks and curls are still frowned upon by many, often calling into question our beauty, self-worth and work readiness. While many are quick to say they aren’t judging, a new study conducted by SheaMoisture and Perception Institute has just released some hard data on how people really feel about textured hair.
The ‘Good Hair’ Study: Explicit and Implicit Attitudes Toward Black Women’s Hair surveyed and quizzed more than 4,000 men and women, including 688 naturalistas, to determine whether they have a subconscious bias for or against natural hair. The study implemented the first-ever Hair Implicit Association Test using a series of images and word associations to gauge subconscious responses to natural hair. The results were pretty much as expected: regardless of race, the majority of participants responded with a negative bias toward textured hair.
Among the key findings:
- Black women who consider themselves to be naturalistas have more positive attitudes toward textured hair than all women, including other Black women.
- Millennial naturalistas had the most positive perception than other group in the study.
- White women showed explicit bias, rating textured hair as less beautiful and less professional.
An accompanying survey also revealed how natural hair impacts Black women’s professional environments and even health.
- More than 30 percent of black women skip the gym for fear of messing up their hair.
- 20 percent of Black women feel pressured to straighten their hair for work as opposed to 10 percent of White women
- Overall, Black women spend more money and time on hair care and have more difficulty finding the hair products they need than their White counterparts.
Though the data appears to be more negative than positive, SheaMoisture sees this as an opportunity to create dialogue for change.
“The report finds that hair bias can be overridden through communities like [SheaMoisture], where there’s inclusivity of men and women with all different hair textures learning, empowering, and communicating with one another,” the brand shared on social media.
“Many black women will feel affirmed by the Good Hair Study—it is what they have always known and experienced: wearing natural hairstyles has deep political and social implications,” said Alexis. “Our hope is that those who create the images we see in our daily lives will consider how bias against natural hair can undermine the ability for black women to be their full selves and affect their professional trajectory, social life and self-esteem.”
Are you hiding a bias toward natural hair? Find out by taking the 10-minute Hair IAT test for yourself.