Date of Conferral
Scholars have reported on the upsurge of African American women wearing their kinky, or natural, hair and the issues surrounding their choices. The wearing of natural African American hair has not been fully accepted in mainstream society. The purpose of this phenomenological study was to explore how African American women understand self-value in the process of wearing their natural hair. The ethnic and racial identity model, critical race theory, and the strong Black woman collection were the conceptual frameworks used to connect identity, race and racism, and a collective vulnerability to the African American woman's hair journey. The study included 9 women who identified as being African American and as having transitioned to wearing their natural hair. The study was an integrative phenomenological analysis using in-depth interviews to explore subjective experiences to garner information about how African American women perceive self-value during, or after, transitioning to wearing natural hair. Data were coded with the participant's own words to formulate themes. According to study findings, participants experienced a succession of expanded self-values that began with values of self-awareness into values of self-love, values of self-confidence, and values of community. Psychologists could benefit from addressing the value of hair to African American women when considering cultural implications and formulating case conceptualization. These discussions address the acceptance of the natural traits to include hair of African American women and add a positive narrative with the goals of creating positive social change.