Publication Date


Document Type

Masters Thesis


School for Social Work


Women, Black-Psychology, African American women-Race identity, African American women-Social networks, Hairdressing of African Americans, Hair-Care and hygiene, Hair-Social aspects, Black women, Natural hair, Cultural identity, Online communities, Hair, Racialized beauty, Hairdressing of African Americans-Online chat groups, Qualitative


This qualitative study was undertaken to explore the social, political, and cultural implications of Black women's participation in the natural hair care community. The narratives of ten women who participate in the online natural hair care community were used to explore how this participation may effect personal and cultural identity, ideas of beauty, and social and economic capital. Women were interviewed and asked 13 questions to elicit the personal experiences of women, and their thoughts on patterns in larger society. The findings suggest that women's interactions with the online natural hair care community is dynamic on both a personal and cultural level. It is a site of active cultural critique and resistance, and a place where Black women interact around the many facets of racialized beauty. Through the receiving and giving of feedback and affirmation, and sharing journeys, women help codify a Black aesthetic. Participants shared increased self-love and self care as a result of participating in the online community. Participation in the online community affords women social and economic opportunities. The women in my study have hope that the collective voice of the community will affect change in narratives surrounding Black women.




iii, 74 pages. Thesis (M.S.W.)-Smith College School for Social Work, 2014. Includes bibliographical references (pages 67-69)

Limited Access until August 2019