From the Kitchen to the Parlor: Language and Becoming in by Lanita Jacobs-Huey

By Lanita Jacobs-Huey

Whilst is hair "just hair" and whilst is it no longer "just hair"? Documenting the politics of African American women's hair, this multi-sited linguistic ethnography explores daily interplay in good looks parlors, net discussions, comedy golf equipment, and different contexts to light up how and why hair concerns in African American women's daily stories.

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Extra resources for From the Kitchen to the Parlor: Language and Becoming in African American Women's Hair Care (Language and Gender Series)

Example text

Park: Audience: Mr. Park: 37 Mm hmm::: Heh heh You know what you gon’ do? That’s right heh heh You gon’ lose that customer! You gon’ lose the customer because . . the mild relaxer is not gonna do the hair no justice Yeah you right -- And even if it look like it did it some justice then, by the next day, the hair done revert right back! Then the person come in there with with maybe thin hair or not so thin hair and then you go slap a super! Heh heh HEH HEH HAA:::::: You don’t know what’s going on.

1). Home-based hair care is a pivotal part of many Black women’s childhood and adolescent socialization. As recipients and providers of home-centered hair care, Black females learn important cultural ideals about womanhood and the presentation of self (Gates 1994). Some more enterprising adolescents and women earn capital or other bartered rewards as informal “kitchen beauticians” to their friends, relatives, and acquaintances. Through their engagements as kitchen beauticians, hair care recipients, or mere bystanders in hair care at home, Black girls and women acquire considerable experience with chemical products and hairstyling tools that can both beautify and occasionally damage their hair (Bonner 1991; Powlis 1988).

To gain more elite status and keep abreast of new hairstyles and products in their field, many African American cosmetologists also participate in hair-care seminars and hair shows sponsored by such multimillion-dollar Black-owned companies as Bronner Brothers Enterprises and Dudley’s Cosmetology University. For example, student stylists regularly compete in the Bronner Brothers Student Woman “Trend Total Look” Competition and the Master Barbering Competition for cash prizes ranging from $100 to $300.

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