Document Type

Thesis

Degree

Master of Arts

Major

Communication

Date of Defense

4-19-2012

Graduate Advisor

Yan Tian

Committee

Yan Tian

Alice Hall

Jina Yoo

Abstract

Within a society, the dominant ideology about aesthetics is instilled in individuals at a very early age. Hegemonic standards concerning the subject of hair style and texture has been an ongoing debate in the Black community for decades. A content analysis of videos on the video-sharing website YouTube was conducted to examine perceptions on African American women’s hair style, the relationship between the perceptions on hair style and gender, and the function of African American women’s’ hair styles as a status symbol. The sample consisted of 150 YouTube videos generated by using the keywords, “hair and Black women.” Three research questions were proposed. The data revealed that characters either portrayed natural hair positively or presented arguments on both sides of the issue without taking an explicit position. Both males and females responded positively toward women who wore natural hair. There was no significant relationship between gender and tone or portrayals of natural hair. Lastly, the relationship between hairstyle and status symbols was not tested because of the limited data on education and occupation. The findings suggest that individuals have started to reject hegemonically defined standards concerning the issue of hair and redefine it based on personal preference.

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