Graduation Date

Spring 2018

Document Type



Master of Arts degree with a major in Psychology, option Academic Research

Committee Chair Name

Christopher Aberson

Committee Chair Affiliation

HSU Faculty or Staff

Second Committee Member Name

Gregg Gold

Second Committee Member Affiliation

HSU Faculty or Staff

Third Committee Member Name

Amber Gaffney

Third Committee Member Affiliation

HSU Faculty or Staff

Subject Categories



In Western culture, standards of beauty are often based on European characteristics that Black women are inherently unable to meet. African American history and anecdotal accounts suggest that hair in particular can have a significant impact on the perception and body image of Black women, though whether that impact is positive or negative is not clear. The current study takes a quantitative approach to examining women’s relationship with their hair. Black women (n = 146) and White women (n = 1,116) participated in an anonymous online survey regarding time devoted to hair maintenance, money spent on hair upkeep, activities hindered by hair choices, overall happiness with hair, and perceived social attitudes. Black women generally took more time to achieve their most worn hair style and spent more money on hair products than did White women, but did not report a higher level of perceived lifestyle or monetary burden. Black women were also happier with their hair than White women despite reportedly feeling that others judged Black hair more negatively. Black women with non-straight/low maintenance hairstyles (e.g., an afro or braids) were both happier and experienced fewer lifestyle and monetary burdens than those with straight/high maintenance hairstyles (e.g., straightened with heat or weaved). Results suggest that Black women who fall further from the European beauty ideals surrounding hair are less affected by those ideals.

Citation Style


Included in

Psychology Commons