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Controversies around hair characteristics influence the self-identities of Black women around the world. Historically, Black women have been exposed to parental expectations, cultural pressures and media representations that impose upon them an ideal image; however this image may or may not conform to ones’ own sense of identity. Herein lies the unresolved struggle for self-identity. In response, some have internalized negative representations of themselves leading to low self-esteem and/or acceptance which adversely affect emotional health and well-being. Recently, African American women have deflected externally imposed standards by embracing and accepting natural hairstyles as a form of self-expression and identity. This new movement primarily has been facilitated by social media. In this sense, social media has served as a modern-day source of social capital and thus a new medium to attain self-identity. This project posits that this relatively new movement has been used as a source of social capital among African American women to enhance psychological well-being, encourage healthy living, and help define self-identity.
Presenter: Professor Lesley Rennis of the Health Education Department
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