Hair As Identity Menu

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I’m kinky, you’re wavy, we’re all sisters, AND?


The hair typing schema has become quite popular amongst naturalistas. For those who don’t know, Andre Walker (Oprah Winfrey’s famed stylist) developed a hair typing schema to categorize hair texture. The types are:
Type 1: Straight hair, Type 2: Wavy hair, Type 3: Curly / Spirally hair, Type 4: Kinky/ Coily hair. Mr. Walker states that he developed the hair typing schema so that women could determine their hair type and thus decide the best way to care for their specific hair type (http://andresays.andrewalkerhair.com/). Note that Mr. Walker developed four broad hair types. Subsequently, there has been a proliferation of sub-hair types, specifically in the curlier categories. For example, according to this visual depiction, there are EIGHT sub-categories of type 4 hair. Woowwww. How did we go from one broad category to eight sub-types?

First, let me say that I think it’s important that women learn how to care for their particular hair type. As you know, I am on that journey myself. Second, I think that communities of understanding can develop around hair type (I know that I’ve scoured the internet for teeny, weeny afro and type 4 hair to get ideas about products, styles, etc.). Having said that, I wonder if this hair typing is beginning to resemble color typing?

We’ve talked about how straight or wavy hair is widely viewed as a beauty ideal and that kinky hair has been deemed less beautiful (or downright ugly according to some). Whenever a particular identity trait is considered less than ideal, it seems that we develop gradations of that trait, or that we make miniscule distinctions as a way to distance ourselves from the offensive trait. For example, I once blogged about colorism and how in Brazil there are 134 skin color gradations. Think I’m joking? See this: http://www.zonalatina.com/Zldata55.htm. Is it just me or is there something to this?

Skin color and hair are two key identity markers. In fact, during slavery some have argued that hair was a more significant marker of status than skin. In other words, you might have had white skin but if your hair was kinky, the gig was up.

I found this visual depiction of hair types and wonder what you all think about hair typing in general? What are the pros and cons?
Tomorrow: stay tuned for more about my visit to NY and immersion in the natural hair care industry!

Image found at: http://www.vissastudios.com/wp-content/uploads/2011/03/hairtypechart-1.jpg

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