A frequent, clarifying shorthand contends hair is to Black women what weight is to White women. But it’s heavier than that. For White women, size rarely becomes a proxy for personhood, while Black hair raises questions of beauty, authenticity and the politics of racial identity.
“I think there are few discussions that are of greater interest to a large number of African American women,” says museum director Johnnetta Betsch Cole. “It is no secret that we say among ourselves the struggle with the hair continues.”