Arizona State University Study Finds Black Girls Are Often Teased and Bullied About Their Hair

New research led by scholars at Arizona State University finds that a large percentage of young Black girls have negative experiences such as teasing and unwanted touching related to their hair.

The research team worked with community organizations to recruit participants. The study included girls aged 10–15 years old who identified as Black or African American. The girls answered a series of open-ended questions about satisfaction with their natural hair, social comparisons of hair, bullying or teasing because of their hair, and pressure to wear their hair a certain way.

When the girls were asked to define “good hair,” the most common answers included descriptions like “long,” “flowy,” “wavy,” “soft” and “straight.” “Bad hair” was described as “short,” “nappy” and “hard to comb through.”

Large numbers of Black girls reported verbal teasing or bullying because of their hair, starting in preschool or kindergarten. The prevalence of verbal teasing or bullying was dwarfed by touching girls’ hair without permission. Touching of hair without permission was reported by 78 percent of 10-year-olds, 50 percent of 11-year-olds, 81 percent of 12-year-olds, 65 percent of 13-year-olds, and 70 percent of 14-year-olds.

“Having an understanding of what Black kids go through is important, even for something that might seem trivial like hair,” said Mel Holman, a graduate student at Arizona State University and a co-author of the paper. “This study shows different types of discrimination and microaggressions that young kids might go through that are not recognized by others because people think it’s just hair.”

“These girls should not have to be resilient,” said Marisol Perez, an associate professor of psychology at Arizona State University and senior author of the paper. “We all need to do a better job celebrating natural hair – in the media, in school settings, and in the beauty industry, which financially benefits from girls and women thinking they need to alter their hair.”

Dr. Perez added that parents can also role model wearing natural hair and complimenting it. Parents reinforcing natural hair in themselves and in their kids is a powerful message for youth that can increase their body confidence.

The full study, “Examination of Hair Experiences Among Girls with Black/African American Identities,” was published on the website of the journal Body Image. It may be accessed here.

Related Articles

Leave a Reply

Get the JBHE Weekly Bulletin

Receive our weekly email newsletter delivered to your inbox

Latest News

Virginia State University Receives Approval to Launch MBA Program

“I am confident this program will equip our diverse population of men and women with the knowledge, skills, and experiences necessary to thrive in today’s ever-evolving world of business," said Emmanual Omojokun, dean of the Virginia State University College of Business.

Three Black Scholars Receive Faculty Appointments

The appointments are Erica Armstrong Dunbar at Emory University in Atlanta, Kimberly Haynie at the University of Arkansas Pine Bluff, and Kevin Vandiver at Virginia Theological Seminary.

Delaware State University Aviation Program Establishes Partnership with Endeavor Air

Through a new memorandum of understanding, students in the aviation program at Delaware State University will have the opportunity to enroll in a pathway program with Endeavor Air, ultimately leading to a priority interview with the airline company upon completion of required flight hours.

American College of Physicians Honors Bruce Ovbiagele for Advancing Diversity in Healthcare

Dr. Ovbiagele's academic career has been dedicated to eliminating local and global stroke disparities, as well as mentoring medical students and researchers from underrepresented groups.

Featured Jobs