In her film, Killing us Softly 4, Jean Kilbourne briefly addresses how women of color are forced to emulate Caucasian standards of beauty. The above commercial portrays an African American woman’s transformation from a big, puffy Afro to straight, shimmering hair using Ladine salon care products. It is implied that straight hair is vital in order for African American women to be estimated as desirable in today’s society.
African American women are urged to conform to a mold that judges women based upon “acceptable” standards of Caucasian beauty. The implicit positive associations with “straight hair” versus negative connotations related to “curly” or “nappy” hair is used to promote and sell hair-straightening products. Thus, African American women feel obligated to adopt mainstream hairstyles in order to assimilate into both professional and social circles. This pressure to conform is teaching girls to feel insecure about their hair from a very young age.
Within the African American community, going “natural” is considered to be a bold statement. Women who are “natural” are stereotypically characterized as “rebels” instead of simply being identified as their natural selves. Beauty has become one-dimensional with no room for personal expression. Contrary to the claim made in this commercial, there is no “science in being beautiful”. People who believe otherwise set themselves up for failure, which contribute to feelings of depression and low self-esteem. However a woman chooses to style their hair should be an individual choice without any outside influence or racial comparisons.