4 June 2023

Texturism: discrimination by hair

LinkedIn and Dove join forces to launch a campaign against racial discrimination based on hair. Let’s find out about texturism and why it must be stopped.

Discrimination has many faces and can even be triggered by hair. Texturism refers to how people with very curly, coiled, or textured hair often experience discrimination.

The issue of texturism is once again at the forefront after the recent launch of the Black Hair is Professional campaign. Ogilvy created this campaign specifically for LinkedIn and Dove. These two entities decided to take a joint proactive stand to curb this phenomenon. The intention is to raise awareness of this issue and educate companies to follow inclusive agendas. The initial focus is on the fact that hair type has nothing to do with professionalism.

Dove is also one of the co-founders of an association in the USA that promotes the adoption of the Crown Act, to fight discrimination against natural hair. After the approval by the House of Representatives in March last year, in December it failed to pass the Senate. As a result, today the provision exists on a state level in only 19 States. 

Some data on texturism

To get an idea of the impact of texturism on a daily basis, we can consult the Crown Workplace Research Study del 2023. This report claims that in the USA discrimination based on hair type occurs in a variety of occasions, from job interviews to daily interactions with colleagues.

About 2/3 of Bipoc women (an acronym for Black, Indigenous, and people of color) changed their hairstyle for job interviews in the hopes of increasing their chances of employment. And among these, 41% decided to straighten their hair in order to better fit a western stereotype. More than half (54%) believe they have to do so to obtain positive results at the interview. As demonstrated by these data, natural Afro hairstyle have a higher probability of being perceived as being non-professional is 2.5 time higher.

Who are the victims of texturism?

Andre Walker is Oprah Winfrey’s hairstylist. He also designed the system we currently use to categorize different types of hair. According to this system, hair type falls into four distinct categories based on texture:

  • 1: straight hair;
  • 2: wavy hair;
  • 3: loose curls;
  • 4: tight curls.

Walker’s systems also associates letters to these numbers to further classify hair types. In this way we can define 4c as the hair with the frizziest and with the tightest curls. Those with 4c hair experience a higher number of episodes of discrimination.  

Who are some famous examples? We can start with the derogatory comments on social and aimed at Beyonce and Jay-Z’s daughter. Then there is a TikTok influencer, Lipglossssssssss who found herself having to deal with bullies because she wears her hair in a natural style. Not to mention the many other bloggers and YouTubers like Mayowa’s World, Jouelzy and Nappyheadedjojoba. Over the years they have spoken of the episodes of texturism they have experienced personally.

What can we do on a daily basis?

It is never easy to change our mentality. Usually its starts with greater awareness and a ruthless examination of conscience. Leaving behind texturism means having to analyze our own opinions and trying to modify them to make them more inclusive. Demolishing prejudice is a meticulous operation that requires honesty and a willingness to accept new viewpoints. The joint LinkedIn and Dove campaign works on prejudice especially in the workplace. Instead, every day we can expand our field of action by sustaining anti-texturism activities. We must start to think that people with 4c hair can be interesting and fascinating. It makes no difference how thick and coiled it may be.

Because the battle for human rights and individual dignity have myriad faces and must also be fought about hair.


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