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Study: Explicit Bias Against Black Women’s Hair

A groundbreaking study that examined attitudes toward Black women’s hair has revealed both an explicit and implicit bias, according to a press release on the findings.

The study was released by Perception Institute and was inspired by SheaMoisture’s “Break the Walls” campaign. The campaign was created to challenge “the beauty and retail industries to address the aisle ‘segregation’ of hair products by race.”

“The ‘Good Hair’ Study” explored how the hair and beauty standards that prevail in advertising, Hollywood, fashion and social media affect perceptions of women of color. It suggests that a majority of people, regardless of their race or gender, hold some bias toward women of color based on their hair.

Key findings of the report can be viewed below.

  • Millennial “naturalistas” have more positive attitudes toward textured hair than all other women.
  • Black women experience more anxiety related to their hair and a greater social and financial burden of hair maintenance than White women.
  • White women demonstrate the strongest bias (both explicit and implicit) against textured hair, rating it as less beautiful, less sexy and less professional than smooth hair.
  • Black women believe the U.S. thinks straight hair is significantly more beautiful and sexy than White women.

“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,” Alexis McGill Johnson, co-founder and executive director of Perception Institute said. “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.”

The study’s findings are based on 4,163 participants, including 3,475 men and women in a national sample recruited via an online panel. Of that number, 688 participants identified themselves as “naturalistas.”

Click here to read “The ‘Good Hair’ Study: Explicit and Implicit Attitudes Towards Black Women’s Hair.”