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The Currency of White Women's Hair in a Down Economy

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Oh how I wish that I had written this headline. But I cannot take credit. It's the title of a short, and very good, essay on the relationship between the economy and white women's hair written by Bridget Crawford of the Pace University School of Law. From the abstract:

"As the economy has declined, sales of home hair-care products targeted toward white women have increased. Major news outlets report on salon customers trying to stretch out the time between their regular $250 hair salon treatments. Certain women turn to home hair dyes to maintain conforming appearances. In popular culture, to have white skin and gray hair is to be old (unemployable and unattractive) or menopausal (unproductive and unsexual). An attempt to retain their hair color (natural or chosen) is, for certain women, an attempt to retain a currency of employability, utility and desirability.

The hair-care spending of African-American women (of all socio-economic classes), in contrast, appears to be less susceptible to economic cycles. African-American legal scholars have given voice to the complex role that hair can play in the personal, professional, social and legal lives of black women. I argue that only in a down economy do some white women grapple with their hair’s complex signaling function, including its link to race and privilege.
Speaking of... if you haven't seen Good Hair, the documentary on the hair of African-American women featuring Chris Rock, it's highly recommended.

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