For black women, hair is tied to culture, identity, and more.

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

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, workplace culture, the pressure to assimilate. She might let you know that historically, so-called “good hair”, i.e. straight hair, has been prized within the black community. (Does that mean black hair in its natural, curly state is “bad”?)

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

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