Tenderheaded: A Comb-Bending Collection of Hair Stories

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Pamela Johnson, Juliette Harris
Simon and Schuster, Aug 23, 2001 - Social Science - 320 pages
3 Reviews
What could make a smart woman ignore doctor's orders?
What could get a hardworking employee fired from her job?
What could get a black woman in hot water with her white boyfriend?
In a word...
When does a few ounces feel like a few tons? When a doctor advises a black woman to start an exercise program and she wonders how she can do it without breaking a sweat. When an employer fires her for wearing a cultural hairstyle that's "unprofessional," and she has to go to court to plead for her job. When she's with her man, and the moment she's supposed to let loose, she stops to secure her head scarf so he doesn't disturb the 'do.
Yes, definitely. All black women are, in one way or another.
The issue is not only about looking good, but about feeling adequate in a society where the beauty standards are unobtainable for most women. Tenderheaded boldly throws open the closet where black women's skeletons have been threatening to burst down the door. In poems, essays, cartoons, photos, and excerpts from novels and plays, women and men speak to the meaning hair has for them, and for society. In an intimate letter, A'Leila Perry Bundles pays tribute to her great-grandmother, hair-care pioneer Madam C.J. Walker, who launched a generation of African-American businesswomen. Corporate consultant Cherilyn "Liv" Wright interviews men and women on the hilarious ways they handle "the hair issue" between the sheets. Art historian Henry John Drewal explores how hairstyles, in Yoruba culture, indicate spiritual destiny, and activist Angela Davis questions how her message of revolution got reduced to a hairstyle.
Tenderheaded is as rich and diverse as the children of the African diaspora. With works by Toni Morrison, Alice Walker, bell hooks, Henry Louis Gates Jr., and other writers of passion, persuasion, and humor -- this is sure to be one of the most talked-about books of the year.

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User Review  - Kimberly.Danielle - LibraryThing

Tendereheaded is a collection of essays from men and women about Black women's love-hate relationship with their hair. The essays span the spectrum of voices and experiences from a divorced father ... Read full review

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A great journey!

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About the author (2001)

Juliette Harris is the editor of International Review of African American Art (IRAAA), which is published by Hampton University Museium in Virginia. She is the editor of In the Memory of Frances, Zora and Lorraine: Essays and Interviews on Black Women. Her prize winning plays and TV productions include "JUBAm" the PBS series on African folklore. She has an MA in American Studies from the College of William and Mary, an MS in TV from Syracuse University and a BA in history from Virginia Union University.

Pamela Johnson, a former senior editor of Essence magazine and now a frequent contributor, is a graduate of Stanford University. She is the co-author of the novel Santa & Pete. She lives in New York City.

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