Performing black consciousness through natural hairstyles : the case of African-American females in Detroit, Michigan
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This dissertation examines the extent to which African-American females perform cultural identity through hairstyle choice. The study focuses on reasons Black women choose natural hairstyles, specifically afros, locks, and sisterlocks. The study tests the hypothesis that wearers with natural hairstyles symbolize an evolved Black consciousness. African-American females in Detroit, Michigan were asked to explain the reasons for their hairstyle choices during self-report interviews. Respondents were also questioned in regard to their hairstyle choice and its association with ethnicity, race, or culture. Analyses of responses from 35 natural hairstyle African-American female respondents were organized according to four predominant response categories: (1) internal factor(s), (2) maintenance, (3) external factor(s), and (4) health of hair. Results suggest that African-American females in Detroit, Michigan are more likely to wear a natural hairstyle based on internal factors, such as personal preference and cultural consciousness, than external factors such as fashion, fad, or high profile celebrities. This dissertation concludes that external features specifically hair texture will not consistently communicate Black consciousness.