Natural Hair Vlogging: A Thematic Analysis of Discrimination and Bias in the Industry

Open Access
Author:
Hilton, Erica
Graduate Program:
Mass Communications
Degree:
Doctor of Philosophy
Document Type:
Dissertation
Date of Defense:
October 05, 2020
Committee Members:
  • Michelle Rodino-Colocino, Dissertation Advisor/Co-Advisor
  • Michelle Rodino-Colocino, Committee Chair/Co-Chair
  • Colleen Connolly-Ahern, Committee Member
  • Matthew Paul Mcallister, Committee Member
  • Niki Tanya Dickerson Vonlockette, Outside Member
  • Anthony Olorunnisola, Program Head/Chair
Keywords:
  • natural hair
  • vlogging
  • Black women
  • YouTube
  • discrimination
Abstract:
Increasingly, Black women are transitioning from wearing their hair straight to embracing their natural hair texture and are actively seeking and engaging social media for Black haircare education. This study invokes both critical race theory and feminist theory to explore the experiences of Black female natural hair vloggers. Although previous research on natural hair vloggers shows that natural hair vlogs uplift and empower Black women by offering Black women an online communal space to resist Western beauty standards, I argue that natural hair vlogs are still sites of discrimination because of institutionalized racism and colorism. This study investigates the different forms of discrimination and bias Black female natural hair vloggers experience due to their race and hair texture. In-depth semi-structured interviews were conducted with 10 Black female natural hair vloggers. A thematic analysis was used to analyze the data collected from these interviews. Findings show that Black women experience three forms of discrimination and bias within the natural hair vlogging industry. Findings also indicate that Black female natural hair vloggers internalize these painful discriminatory practices and biases, and it is reflected in their descriptions of themselves and other Black women with natural hair. Recommendations are made for strategies that vloggers can use to challenge the racism and colorism in the industry, enhance their success as vloggers, and move forward in creating a safe space for Black women online.