Custom «Black Women Hair in White America» Essay Paper Sample
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Double consciousness refers to a concept formulated by W.E.B. Dubois, an American socialist. In this theory, Dubois seeks to describe the contradiction that exists between the social values and day to day experience of the Black people in the United States of America. According to Dubois, merely being black meant that the individual is deprived of “a true self-conscious”. This is because; black people in America perceive themselves through the contempt of the white population in America. Therefore, being black in America brings about various contradictions between the ideals shared by the American society that are also shared by the black people, as well as, their exclusion from American life.
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In his book, “The souls of Black Folks” Dubois introduces two concepts to his theory trying to describe the ideal experience of the black in America. These concepts were “double consciousness” and “Veil”. These concepts explain the inner feelings of the Blacks living in America that they previously could never express. This was as a result of fear and accurate words describing their inner pain. These words do not only briefly describe the dilemma faced by blacks, but they also give the essence of what being black in America entails today. ( Bryd and Akiba 100)
Veil, in Dubois perspective, literary refers to the dark skin of the blacks which for centuries has acted as a demarcation that has separated the blacks and whites. In addition, a veil in this scenario could be uses to represent the lack of clarity for the white where they fail to see the blacks as true Americans. Lastly, the veil could be used to mean the black peoples lack of clarity when they fail to think outside the box of what the whites in America prescribe of them. Double consciousness, on the other hand, applies to the internal conflict experienced by blacks as they struggle to accept themselves as black people and American citizens.
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To emphasize his point, Dubois uses the example of a black artisan in his book “The Souls of Black Folk”. The artisan is faced with the dilemma of either producing goods that reflect his unique perspective on opinion on life or producing goods that seem more acceptable and marketable to a broader population in America. The dilemma he faces is that if he chooses to create commodities that express his perspective he might lose his clientele, on the other hand, if he chooses to create commodities that are marketable and more successful, he may be rejecting his true personality. Through this example, Dubois demonstrates the struggles blacks undergo in trying to unite the different aspects of their identity. ( Bryd and Akiba 50)
Double consciousness is still a part of the contemporary society despite the fact that we live in a post racial society. This is because; many inequalities between blacks and whites still exist making it difficult for blacks in America to reconcile with their identities as equal Americans. The media also plays a key role in creating perceptions about different groups of people hence influencing how people respond to them. For instance, black men are perceived to be rappers, criminals or athletic. Therefore, the whites see them as such limiting the paths young black men have to take for their advancement. Another scenario is when white women are perceived to be better looking, more elegant and classy as compared to the black women. This affects the black woman’s self image and self esteem. An example, is seen though the black woman’s insecurity about their natural hair and would rather have long, straight hair. The result of this is that a great percent of black women opt to either weave or perm their hair.
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Case study of black women’s insecurity about their hair
A lot of black women are insecure about their hair making them have low self esteem and security issues. The media are to blame for this because they have created the image of a perfect woman as having long, straight and soft hair, slender body and proportional in every aspect. These perceptions affect the way women who fall short of these qualifications feel and adapt in the society. (Flecher 76)
In America, black women spend so much money trying to make their hair like the whites’. For example, they invest a lot in weaves and fancy wigs so that they can fit more easily into the society. In addition, they end up relaxing their hair as well as other hair procedures to make them feel more confident. Take an example of Michael Jackson who had to go through numerous plastic surgeries to look white. (Cobb 70)
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These are some of the things that show the blacks’ inferiority complex in the white society. Statistics show that over 95% of women in America have phony hair. This means that they are hardly ever seen with their natural hair. This trend has continued to spread throughout the world with women all over spotting weaves and relaxed hair as opposed to their natural afros. To make matters worse, some of these black women put blue contact lenses, which give them the impression that they are more beautiful and acceptable. In my opinion, this is overcompensating and trying to correct natures. Women are brainwashed to believe that not unless they fit into the white woman’s profile, they are not sturdy enough.
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Another aspect to blame is tradition. Black people were slaves for many centuries under the whites. This created an inferiority complex for the blacks who perceive the whites as more superior compared to them. Thus, black women are always concerned about how they are perceived by the whites and the rest of the world making them overly cautious about their appearances. This insecurity goes deeper than just the physical appearance, a fact that is evident from their craving to be noticed and desire to be noticed, and the centre of attention at all times.
The black woman is endowed with nice, strong hair that can withstand all conditions. However, they still see the need to modify it to fit into the society more easily. By using fancy weaves and wigs, black women spend their days trying to conceal their true hair. Also, they relax their hair to make it straight elegant. Even the black celebrities are not left behind. We get to see celebrities like Tyra Banks and Vivica Fox among other always spotting exotic weaves and wigs to conceal their natural hair. This should not be he case since they ought to be empowering other black women to be proud of their heritage. (Cobb 190)
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This shows how the media has contributed to double consciousness in the society. Every day we are showed films with black, successful women who are also too uncomfortable to appear on national television with their natural hair. This sends the wrong message to the young black girls being born and brought up in such as a society because; they grow up feeling inferior and having the need to be accepted by the whites.
Struggle with the many different textures of black hair
Black women face a lot of problems when dealing with their hair. This is because; most of the products in the market are for Caucasian hairs and other similar textures. Specific products and techniques are required when managing black hair; thus with the right hydration, black hair is manageable.
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There are three types of black hair namely; wavy, curly and kinky. Wavy hair has long curves; it is coarse and stays close to the scalp. To manage it, deep conditioning and moisturizing is required. The next type of hair is curly hair, which is straight when wet and curly when dry. This type has a lot of body and can be combed using a wide toothed comb plus deep conditioning once in a while. Lastly is the coily kinky hair, which is extremely tightly curled and wiry. It is the most fragile and driest and can be managed to use a daily leave in conditioner. (Flecher 200)
Black hair is naturally coarse, curly and thick. However, with the right care and treatment it is manageable, which in this case is a superior moisturizer and conditioner. It tends to curl and these curls tangle up making it difficult to comb. This is one of the reasons why most blacks prefer to relax their hair making it straight. Another reason is because relaxed hair is elegant. Another way blacks can manage heir hair is through dreadlocks which have gained popularity over the years. In my opinion, black hair is exceptionally nice, and the black women need to start appreciating this fact. Their hair is strong, firm and thick making it the better option among the two when it is properly managed. The downside of the white woman’s hair is that it becomes stringy, greasy, and balds fast and the black women need to be more appreciative of their outstanding quality hair. (Flecher 10)
What many black women do not realize is that chemical processing damages their hair shaft and hair follicle, which in turn weakens the hair. Another problem occurs, when hair is continually weaved. This thins the hair since it is tugged and pulled continually. Thus, emphasizing the fact that black women are best with their natural hair since that is when it is at its strongest.
The standards of fitting into society because societal expectations and opinion
The society determines a lot about an individual. In American society, the society has influenced a lot about the self image of the blacks living there. The society has so many expectations that the black woman has to go overboard to meet them. For instance, they have to look as respectable as the whites; they have to be as elegant, as educated as their white counter parts. These standards are limiting them and it prevents them from being natural and embracing their heritage.
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Stereotyping has been a considerable undoing in the society to date. For instance, Mexicans are stereotyped as gang members while blacks. Black women are stereotyped as rude among other traits. These stereotypes can be intimidating at times. An additional stereotypes about black women from a white mans’ perspective are that they are untrustworthy and undeserving of equal rights as the white more decent women. It is also thought that they are immoral and associated with a lot of violence. These perceptions are extremely damaging to a black woman’s self-esteem hence no one should blame them for striving to be different and wanting to demand the same respect as the white women in society.
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Society opinion and standards have both a negative and positive influence. On the up side, these standards help the society not to be complacent and rather strive to be better. This means that although these standards can be limiting and damaging to an individual's self esteem, they help other women from other minority groups to pull up and strive to also live a mark in the world. Therefore, black women are faced with the choice of either conforming to society expectations or embrace their heritage, which is double consciousness.