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Beauty Shop Politics: African American Women's Activism in the Beauty Industry (Women in American History) Paperback – March 3, 2010
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Initially, the hair care industry was dominated by white English and French men. Black men slowly worked their way into the industry, serving as hairdressers for white women, but that period was short-lived, as the stereotype of black men as sexual predators began to emerge. During the antebellum period, black women began to emerge as hairdressers in greater numbers; the early twentieth century saw the emergence of black female entrepreneurs, namely Annie Malone and Madame C.J. Walker, who played an integral role in expanding black beauty culture.
Through hard work and sheer perseverance, the women fought for beauticians to gain the respect of the general public. The women had to fight charges that they were inhibiting racial uplift, particularly because their products appeared to straighten black women's hair at a time when it was culturally looked down upon. Still, the women fought to have beautician courses established at black colleges, arguing that the industry provided black women economic stability. They also fiercely promoted themselves to the public by contributing to various philanthropic causes.Read more ›