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A woman's hair before and after using a flat iron

Hair straightening is a hair styling technique which involves the flattening and straightening of hair in order to give it a smooth, streamlined and 'sleek' appearance. It may be accomplished by using hair irons and hot combs, chemical relaxers, Japanese hair straightening, or Brazilian hair straightening. In addition, some shampoos, and conditioners and hair gels can help to make hair temporarily straight. The process is often called "rebonding" in Southeast Asia (e.g. Malaysia and Philippines) [1].

Hair irons and hot combs can only temporarily modify hair texture, whereas relaxers and the other methods permanently alter the structure of the hair, although new hair growth is not affected. The drug interferon alpha has been reported as being shown to modify hair follicles causing permanent change in a person's hair texture.[2]

During much of the 20th century, social norms encouraged straightening of afro-textured hair which naturally has a tightly curled texture, resulting in artificial styles such as the conk. The Black Power movement in the 1960s increased the acceptance of unstraightened, "natural" hairstyles such as the Afro and dreadlocks. Nevertheless, many African-American women still continue to straighten their hair stating it is an asethic choice.

Straight Hair African American Women

Having natural hair has, in a sense become more socially acceptable in our society over the past couple of decades but this is only through a certain extent. There is certain spheres in our society that allows African Americans to wear their hair naturally and there is other realms in our society that having natural hair is forbidden or looked down apron. For example, one may be able to wear natural hair in a school setting but may be forbidden or encourage to change their hair in a cooperate setting. The idea that straight hair is "good" and natural hair, for the most part is bad, stems from a long standing history of racism and white supremacy in the United States. When we talk about racism, we are not talking about overt discriminatory practices that stem from racism, we all also talking about the psychological effect it has on African American women. Historically, African American women who had hair that was not straight was seen as "bad" or "wrong". It was seen as something that did not hold up to standards of beauty set by a system of white supremacy. "During the 1960s black people who actively worked to critique, challenge, and change white racism pointed to the way in which black people’s obsession with straight hair reflected a colonized mentality. It was at this time that the natural hairdo, the “afro,” became fashionable as a sign of cultural resistance to racist oppression and as a celebration of blackness. Naturals were equated with political militancy. Many young black folks found just how much political value was placed on straightened hair as a sign of respectability and conformity to societal expectations when they ceased to straighten their hair. When black liberation struggles did not lead to revolutionary change in society, the focus on the political relationship between appearance and complicity with white racism ceased and folks who had once sported afros began to straighten their hair. "[3] Some may argue that they straighten their hair because they personally feel it looks better on them, which could be true on an individual basis; some people want to straighten their hair because they feel that particular hairstyle fits them, while natural hair does not. They hold no negative perception of natural looking hair and feels that the way people choose to carry their hair is their own person decision. This, once again is a very individualistic perception and to state that this perception carries out in the greater society is to activity ignore the history of racism and discrimination toward African Americans was and continues to be longstanding, many African Americans interlined this negative vision about themselves. This is a symptom of internalized oppression and on a greater scale what problems the United States still have an issue concerning race.

Hair Staighting in the 80s and 90s

Hair straightening became more popular in the United States during the mid-late 1990s and through to the 2000s, whereas perming and curlier hair had previously been more popular fashions during the 1980s, even among men (for example, hair metal bands). However, both straight and wavy/curly hair can be achieved with use of a hair iron, and so it may be said that both straight and curly or wavy hair styles co-exist in modern fashion.

References

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Simple English

Hair straightening is when a person makes their hair straighter. Their hair may be curly, wavy, or almost straight. There are methods to make even very curly hair straighter.

There are two different types of straightening: temporary and permanent. Temporary hair straightening keeps the hair straight until it gets wet or damp again, so only lasts for up to a few days. Permanent hair straightening keeps the hair straight for up to a few months, even when the hair gets wet.

A person can temporarily straighten their hair using:

  • Hair irons, tongs use heat to make the hair straight.
  • Hot combs, combs that use heat to make the hair straight
  • Hairdryer, a machine that blows air over the hair to dry it quickly, so that combs can be used to style the hair straight.
  • Hair cremes, cremes that help hold the hair in place more, but do not completely straighten the hair.

A person can permanently straighten their hair using:

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