At the most banal level, a beauty shop is where women go for beauty. But as Willi Coleman evocatively notes, at beauty shops “lots more [gets] taken care of than hair.” The degrees, types, and technologies of artifice and alteration required by beauty are mediated by racial, sexual, class, political, and geographic cultures and locations. Thus, beauty shops can be considered as sites of both cultural and identity production. Some have argued that if the female body generally has been subjected to “externalization of the gendered self” (Peiss 1994, 384), the explicitly racialized female body has been subjected to “exile from the self” (Shohat and Stam 1994, 322–33). With the rise of global colonialism, slavery, neocolonialism, and imperialism, African-origin bodies have been stigmatized as unsightly and ugly, yet, simultaneously and paradoxically as hypersexual (Hernton 1988). White female bodies are racialized as well, but this racialization is enacted...
Hair Race-ing: Dominican Beauty Culture and Identity Production
Ginetta E. B. Candelario is professor of sociology, Latin American and Latin@ studies, and the study of women and gender at Smith College. Since 2017, she has been the editor of Meridians. Her research interests include Dominican history and society, with a focus on national identity formation, feminism, and women’s history; Blackness in the Americas; Latin American, Caribbean, and Latina feminisms; Latina/o communities (particularly Cuban, Dominican, and Puerto Rican); U.S. beauty culture; and museum studies.
Ginetta E. B. Candelario; Hair Race-ing: Dominican Beauty Culture and Identity Production. Meridians 1 December 2020; 19 (S1): 22–50. doi: https://doi.org/10.1215/15366936-8565825
Download citation file: