Black Girls Experience Hair Discrimination as Early as Age 5, Study Says
Dove’s new campaign shines a spotlight on why we need to start talking to young children about race and racism. With their 2021 CROWN (Creating a Respectful and Open World for Natural Hair) Research Study for Girls, the brand is finding that young Black girls experience race-based hair bias and discrimination as young as 5 years old.
For their study—conducted by JOY Collective, a Black and women-owned firm—a survey was completed by 1000 girls (500 Black and 500 white), aged 5 to 18. The girls were a mix of Black girls who attend predominantly Black schools, diverse schools and predominantly white schools. They were asked questions about their personalities, the presence of bias in school, school hair policies and the impact of any hair bias.
The survey found that 53 percent of Black moms whose daughters experienced hair discrimination said it happened when they were as young as 5 years old. Plus, around 86 percent of Black teenagers experience such discrimination by the age of 12. When it came to Black girls in majority-white schools, 100 percent said they had experienced hair bias and discrimination by the age of 10. It’s no secret that experiencing such hair bias and hair discrimination can negatively impact self-esteem. The survey found that 81 percent of Black girls in majority-white schools sometimes wished their hair was straight.
Dove used these findings to release, “As Early As Five,” a short film that shows the many real stories of those who have experienced hair discrimination and bias in both schools and the workplace. It shows three scenes of race-based hair discrimination experienced by a girl, first in elementary school, then in high school and adulthood.
The video raises awareness for the CROWN Act legislation and leads viewers to sign the CROWN Act petition, both of which aim to make race-based hair discrimination illegal nationwide.
"Our groundbreaking 2019 CROWN research study revealed that Black women are 80 percent more likely to change their hair from its natural state to fit in at the office. Now, this new body of research illuminates the pervasive nature and deep impact hair discrimination has on Black girls highlighting the horrific multi-generational impact of narrow beauty standards in America,” EVP & COO of Unilever North America, Esi Eggleston Bracey, said in a press release. “These biases continue to perpetuate unfair scrutiny and discrimination against Black women and girls for wearing hairstyles inherent to our culture. This is unacceptable and why it is imperative that everyone join the movement to make hair discrimination illegal nationwide through the passage of The CROWN Act.”
Learn more about the campaign and how you can get involved at Dove.com.
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