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For Black women, hair is tied up with culture, identity and much more.

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Alesia I. Redding

Charea Frazier works with a client Monday, Dec. 12, 2022, at her salon, The Loc Shop, next door to Barnes & Noble in Mishawaka’s University Park Mall.

For a Black woman, her hair can be her crowning glory, an expression of pride in her appearance. But it can also be something more, something deeper — something rooted in culture and a complicated history.

So, if you ask a Black woman about her hair, be prepared to hear about more than dreadlocks and perms.

She might tell you about beauty standards, about workplace culture, about the pressure to assimilate. She might inform you that historically, so-called “good hair,” i.e., straight hair, has been prized within the Black community. (Does that mean that Black hair in its natural, tightly curled state is “bad”?)

She might share memories of not swimming (or learning to swim) because she couldn’t risk getting her (straightened) hair wet.

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