The Dilemma: Natural Hair’s Role in American Society

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The Dilemma: Natural Hair’s Role in American Society

Kristen D. Brown

Comm-4500 Senior Project

Dr. Kimberly Johnson

April 8, 2013


For this exploratory study, I used dramatistic criticism to qualitatively measure the importance for Black women to wear straight hair versus natural hair in American society. By using this method, I was able to gain knowledge on the complex relationship between the role African American women play to appease the American Society audience, whether that is family, peers, or Caucasians. My personal narrative also proved conclusive in the thought that family played a key role in the acceptance factor for the pressure to obtain straight hair.

Willie Lynch’s Making of a Slave proved some valid points in comparison to the role that African American women have played for many centuries in this country. There are some very pivotal points, for example, how inferior thought can be regenerated from generation to generation and this held true in my personal affliction with my hair and my mother teaching me that nappy hair was bad and straight hair was good. Wolfe’s piece gave a symbolic and a representational approach to the issue with Woman’s no good boyfriend representing Society, Woman representing African American women as a group, LaWanda representing the societal pressure to wear straight hair and Janine representing the Natural hair and Black aesthetic.

These results are essential because now that this research has proved some key points in the disenfranchisement and negativity involving natural hair, the masses can now be enlightened on this aspect and choose to reject this mentality and start appreciating and understanding that the standard of beauty forced upon black women is not the only standard of beauty.

The issue of hair proves prevalent in today’s society because of the post- slavery ideology that has imprinted in American society and forced a subliminal pressure to straighten hair and the importance individuals in American society have placed on dead hair. My research concludes that each African American woman’s experience is different yet similar. Given that each experience is personal to that individual. However, societal pressure and family pressure contribute a great deal to the pressure that African-American women feel to straighten their hair.

The Dilemma:

Natural Hair’s Role in American Society
Table of Contents

Chapter I: Introduction to The Dilemma Page

  1. Type of Project Page 5

  2. Subject Page 5

  3. Research Question Page 5

  4. Statement of Problem and Purpose Page 5-6

  5. Significance Page 6

  6. Scope and Limitations of Project Page 7

  7. Methodology Page 7-8

  8. Definitions of Terms Page 9

  9. Key Concepts Page 10

Chapter II: Review of the Literature Page 11

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