TAIPEI (The China Post) — Walk down the aisles of a Watsons, and you’ll see shelves full of hair products. Conditioner for glossy, straight asian hair? Of course! Shampoo for damaged hair? Yes! Hair masks for dry hair? Definitely.
Look a little closer, however, and you’ll realize there are barely any products for black hair in Taiwan.
According to the study “How Natural Black Hair at Work Became a Civil Rights Issue” published on JSTOR Daily’s website, black women have historically felt pressured to treat and maintain their hair in certain styles.
Hence, black women searching for employment would be forced to relax their hair or wear fake extensions. Natural hairstyles, such as afros, braided hair and twists were considered inappropriate or unprofessional, and would prevent black women from being taken seriously in the workplace.
Unfortunately, many black citizens still face discrimination because of their hair in the workplace, making it difficult to participate and advance in employment. Hence, many still find themselves paying for monthly hair appointments to conceal their natural curls.
In fact, as revealed in the “Black Dollars Matter: The Sales Impact of Black Customers” report, black women on average spend nine times more than their non-black counterpart on ethnic hair products used to adhere to beauty standards that disfavor natural black characteristics.
Yet, nowadays more and more black women are also choosing to embrace their natural hair. In 2000, Chastity Jones, a working black woman, refused a job offer when she was told she had to cut off her natural hair to be employed.
Instead of being suppressed by the unfair expectations of her racist employers, Jones chose to cherish her natural curls. Jones’ case was a demonstration to thousands of other black women that they too deserve to flaunt their natural hair.
For the black women who choose to undergo hair treatments, however, pricey salon appointments are not the only obstacles they must consider.
Along with extensive hair treatments comes with a surplus of necessary hair products that must be purchased to maintain artificially modified hair.
Thus, Taiwanese hair brands that are not creating products for treated black hair are automatically diminishing the decision making opportunities black women have when it comes to artificially maintain their hair.
Moreover, brands that do not create products suitable for natural black hair are in turn also supporting an unjust, racist motive against black women that prevents them from donning their natural hair.
Black women should ultimately have agency over the way they want to wear their hair. Those who want to book monthly appointments to style their hair rightfully reserve the right to.
Conversely, those who want to maintain their natural curls also deserve the entitlement to. Hair brands, employers and workplaces have no jurisdiction in telling black women how they should wear their hair.
It’s time for Taiwanese hair brands to do their part in creating products that adhere to both treated and natural black hair.