In the Salon: The Pain and Power of Black Women's Hair

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Why you should care

Because we all freak out about our hair. Even those who rock Kojak’s style.

Anthony Hamilton is an OZY essayist. This is part of an ongoing OZY video series of conversations in his Mountain View, California, barbershop. For this installment, Anthony takes the conversation over to the salon next door to speak to the ladies.

As a white male, this reporter is going to keep it brief when delving into the emotional politics of black women’s hair.

From Afros to perms and weaves, it’s safe to say there’s a whole culture around black hair, and much of it appears contested. When the U.S. Army tried to update its styling rules in spring 2014, black service women pushed back, compelling the Army to reconsider its ban on dreadlocks, twists and double ponytails. Many black bloggers have objected to the public’s fascination with their intricate styling, warning strangers and colleagues alike: “Don’t touch my hair.”

In this latest edition in our salon series, Anthony Hamilton asks his female guests to get candid about the emotional strain and powerful potential of their hair. Some grew up struggling with their thick, curly, kinky natural hair, battling to straighten, shape and extend their ’dos. And though each of them has since found a style that suits her personality, they still have a lot to say about their hair.

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