Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations

UF Researcher: Beauty More Than Skin Deep In Black Community

Date:
February 18, 1998
Source:
University Of Florida
Summary:
In a 16-month study of behavior at a black beauty shop, University of Florida researcher Kimberly Battle-Walters found a political and social refuge for working people that may be as important to black solidarity as the well-recognized African-American churches and funeral parlors.

Writer: Cathy Keen

Related Articles


Source: Kimberly Battle-Walters
(626) 815-6000 Ext. 3793, 914-6608

GAINESVILLE, Fla. --- Hairdos and pedicures of working-class black women have resulted in new findings for social researchers who are more inclined to focus on welfare woes or middle-class affluence, a new University of Florida study finds.

In a 16-month study of behavior at a black beauty shop, UF researcher Kimberly Battle-Walters found a political and social refuge for working people that may be as important to black solidarity as the well-recognized African-American churches and funeral parlors.

"Social scientists, when they do look at the black community, tend to emphasize low-income neighborhoods, or, less often, the middle class," said Joe Feagin, a UF sociologist and expert on racial relations who supervised the research. "Most whites don't have a clue that most African-Americans are not low-income welfare recipients or part of the underclass and the majority aren't middle class either. They're just hardworking, working-class people."

Battle-Walters, who did the research for her doctoral dissertation in sociology, spent 12 to 15 hours a month observing and interviewing women in a north Central Florida beauty shop from November 1995 to March 1997.

"People often ask if the beauty shop resembles the atmosphere portrayed in the movie ‘Steel Magnolias,' where women gossip and share their secrets with friends," Battle-Walters said. "The same camaraderie is there. For at least two hours, these women found refuge and support without cares or concerns of their families, jobs or social problems."

Learning about these women's lives reveals a broader network that is helping to unify the black community, said Feagin, adding that the study breaks new ground in describing the critical role of the beauty shop.

"The beauty shop is where important social networks are created, friendships are built and information is passed along," he said. "It is much more than a place to have one's hair done. In a sense, it is a haven in a heartless world."

Battle-Walters said she chose the beauty shop for her setting because it contains a wealth of information about what it is like to be a working-class black woman today. Beauticians are almost perceived as therapists, fixing up women physically as well as emotionally, and women share personal details of their lives with them, she said.

"We're almost like counselors," agreed Kenneth Bolen, owner of Ebona Magic, a Gainesville beauty salon with a black clientele. "Often they'll talk about their marriages and I as a male will try to curve them to stay in their marriage if they possibly can."

But Bolen said his beauty shop is a focal point for black women to chat about a wide range of topics, including religion, politics and racism.

Battle-Walters found the challenges in overcoming stereotypes to be a frequent topic of discussion. "Most of the stereotypes that the women had to dispel came from the media, which categorize black women as Aunt Jemimas, sexual toys or welfare queens," she said.

Among the everyday problems the women described were being followed in department stores by clerks who suspected them of shoplifting and having to face harsher treatment than white women on the job, Battle-Walters said.

"Automatically, (store clerks) will come and walk up to you, and I know a lot of times it's because I'm a black person," one woman told Battle-Walters.

"White women are always treated like they are fragile, like a china doll," complained another woman. "But a black woman is expected to be like a horse. You got to keep going no matter what."

These women said they had to work hard for the sake of their families to compensate for what they believed was even greater discrimination faced by black men, Battle-Walters said. In that sense, they felt they had to be strong for the sake of their race, gender and social class, she said. They drew that strength from family, female friends, and -- even more important than the black church -- their belief in God.

But the beauty salon remained their haven. "For a short time," she said, "somebody else was doing the pampering and taking care of them."

-30-

Color or black & white photo available with this story. For information, please call News & Public Affairs photography at (352) 392-9092.


Story Source:

The above story is based on materials provided by University Of Florida. Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.


Cite This Page:

University Of Florida. "UF Researcher: Beauty More Than Skin Deep In Black Community." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 18 February 1998. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/1998/02/980218164635.htm>.
University Of Florida. (1998, February 18). UF Researcher: Beauty More Than Skin Deep In Black Community. ScienceDaily. Retrieved October 25, 2014 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/1998/02/980218164635.htm
University Of Florida. "UF Researcher: Beauty More Than Skin Deep In Black Community." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/1998/02/980218164635.htm (accessed October 25, 2014).

Share This



More Science News

Saturday, October 25, 2014

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

Texas Nurse Nina Pham Cured of Ebola

Texas Nurse Nina Pham Cured of Ebola

AFP (Oct. 25, 2014) — An American nurse who contracted Ebola while caring for a Liberian patient in Texas has been declared free of the virus and will leave the hospital. Duration: 01:01 Video provided by AFP
Powered by NewsLook.com
IKEA Desk Converts From Standing to Sitting With One Button

IKEA Desk Converts From Standing to Sitting With One Button

Buzz60 (Oct. 24, 2014) — IKEA is out with a new convertible desk that can convert from a sitting desk to a standing one with just the push of a button. Jen Markham explains. Video provided by Buzz60
Powered by NewsLook.com
Ebola Protective Suits Being Made in China

Ebola Protective Suits Being Made in China

AFP (Oct. 24, 2014) — A factory in China is busy making Ebola protective suits for healthcare workers and others fighting the spread of the virus. Duration: 00:38 Video provided by AFP
Powered by NewsLook.com
Real-Life Transformer Robot Walks, Then Folds Into a Car

Real-Life Transformer Robot Walks, Then Folds Into a Car

Buzz60 (Oct. 24, 2014) — Brave Robotics and Asratec teamed with original Transformers toy company Tomy to create a functional 5-foot-tall humanoid robot that can march and fold itself into a 3-foot-long sports car. Jen Markham has the story. Video provided by Buzz60
Powered by NewsLook.com

Search ScienceDaily

Number of stories in archives: 140,361

Find with keyword(s):
 
Enter a keyword or phrase to search ScienceDaily for related topics and research stories.

Save/Print:
Share:  

Breaking News:

Strange & Offbeat Stories

 

In Other News

... from NewsDaily.com

Science News

Health News

Environment News

Technology News



Save/Print:
Share:  

Free Subscriptions


Get the latest science news with ScienceDaily's free email newsletters, updated daily and weekly. Or view hourly updated newsfeeds in your RSS reader:

Get Social & Mobile


Keep up to date with the latest news from ScienceDaily via social networks and mobile apps:

Have Feedback?


Tell us what you think of ScienceDaily -- we welcome both positive and negative comments. Have any problems using the site? Questions?
Mobile iPhone Android Web
Follow Facebook Twitter Google+
Subscribe RSS Feeds Email Newsletters
Latest Headlines Health & Medicine Mind & Brain Space & Time Matter & Energy Computers & Math Plants & Animals Earth & Climate Fossils & Ruins