• Crystal Aguh

Hair Shaming. It's Real and it's pervasive.


When I was younger, I really was bothered by hair shaming comments. It was important to me that people thought I looked nice and professional. I spent years wearing my hair in a beautiful 'Stepford Wives'  weaved style, that garnered compliments from men and women of all races. When I decided to go natural, the compliments decreased dramatically but this was less bothersome to me as I felt more comfortable in my skin. I developed a real pride in feeling comfortable wearing my own hair.   

Having found myself on both sides of this issue I have some thoughts:

  1. Stop telling women how to wear their hair. No seriously, stop. How a woman wears her hair is a reflection of one of many variables- the time needed for upkeep, ability to maintain a certain hairstyle and just flat out preference.

  2. Women, especially black women, should be supported when it comes to hairstyling choices. In my opinion, no group suffers more from hair anxiety than black women. Hair anxiety refers to the level of emotional stress associated with wearing a particular hairstyle. Even when many women seem confident in their style, they still may harbor this anxiety, and making comments make this worse.

  3. To the men: stop saying that if you were a woman you would wear your hair a certain way. You have no idea what its like to be a woman and most of you have no idea what its like to have hair on your head that requires constant upkeep. If you were you a woman then there's a good chance that you would be making the same decision other women make about their hair every day.

  4. As a dermatologist, it is never my goal or objective to INSIST that women wear their hair (or not wear their hair) in any particular way. That means natural, locked, permed, weaved, dyed or braided, I think it is fine for women to do what floats their boat. As their doctor, it is my job to inform them of the pros and cons of each hairstyle and the methods and techniques they can use to avoid any hair damage. If they feel that they are not equipped to transition to a safer hairstyling practice, then I can help them with that too. I know that for so many women, how they wear their hair is a reflection of who they are and I am only here to help.

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Johns Hopkins Department of Dermatology,

Baltimore, MD

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Dr. Aguh