Can Hair Be a Tool for Empowerment?

Can Hair Be a Tool for Empowerment?

On 8th March, the world will celebrate International Women’s Day once more. In the spirit of looking at women’s empowerment, All Things Hair recently asked women about issues relating to their hair and their identity. Just 33% of those surveyed reported never having felt discriminated against because of their hair. That compares to 20% of women who have felt discriminated against or judged because of their hair color, 16% because of their hair type and 15% because of their hairstyle. 16% of respondents, meanwhile, reported feeling discriminated against of judged due to all three of these factors.

With that in mind, we’re going to take a quick look below at issues relating to women’s hair and empowerment. But first, let’s consider how hair can also relate to disempowerment.

The Women Forced To Sell Their Hair

The human hair market is booming. Between hair extensions and wigs, the market is worth around $1 billion in worldwide sales. But those who sell their hair rarely see more than a few dollars for it. And, according to campaigners, many are selling their hair due to poverty, feeling forced to sell a part of their body to pay for essentials such as food, medicine or education.

For many women, the indignity of having to sell their hair is a daily reminder of the impoverished conditions in which they are living. With many cultures associating long, strong hair with a certain degree of social standing, such women are often judged negatively and shamed by those around them.

Hair and Empowerment

Just as hair can be an indicator of disempowerment, it can also help women to feel more confident and empowered. Wigs aren’t only worn by those seeking to follow the latest celebrity trends. Girls and women who have lost their hair through alopecia, cancer treatment and other reasons may use wigs until their own hair grows back, for example.

Trending Hairstyles & Haircuts for Women | All Things Hair USA

Several charities exist that use human hair to make wigs for those who are unwell and have lost their hair. Many work in partnership with salons to maximize their access to easily available human hair. If you happen to be planning a major restyle that will see you cut off a fair length of hair, then it’s worth finding out how you can donate it before you let your hairdresser get the scissors out.

Hair Styles, Colors and More

As we saw from the All Things Hair survey, hairstyles and colors are inextricably linked with women’s sense of identity and their self-confidence. As such, having the freedom to make decisions about their own hairstyles can be empowering in itself.

Women around the world today still face ingrained societal attitudes when it comes to what is and is not acceptable in terms of their hair. Length, color and style are all reasons that women are judged when it comes to the way they look. Too many assumptions are still made about women based on how they wear their hair.

This International Women’s Day, let’s all work together to challenge assumptions that are made about women based on their hair. Doing so can help us to move towards a world where women are empowered to wear their hair in whatever way they wish.

Ellen Hollington

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