Beauty in a Box: Detangling the Roots of Canada's Black Beauty Culture (APRIL 2019)
One of the first transnational, feminist studies of Canada’s black beauty culture and the role that media, retail, and consumers have played in its development, Beauty in a Box widens our understanding of the politics of black hair.
The book analyzes advertisements and articles from media—newspapers, advertisements, television, and other sources—that focus on black communities in Halifax, Montreal, Toronto, and Calgary. The author explains the role local black community media has played in the promotion of African American–owned beauty products; how the segmentation of beauty culture (i.e., the sale of black beauty products on store shelves labelled “ethnic hair care”) occurred in Canada; and how black beauty culture, which was generally seen as a small niche market before the 1970s, entered Canada’s mainstream by way of department stores, drugstores, and big-box retailers.
Beauty in a Box uses an interdisciplinary framework, engaging with African American history, critical race and cultural theory, consumer culture theory, media studies, diasporic art history, black feminism, visual culture, film studies, and political economy to explore the history of black beauty culture in both Canada and the United States.
Table of Contents
1. African Canadian Newspapers and Early Black Beauty Culture, 1914–1945
2. From Ebony’s “Brownskin” to “Black Is Beautiful” in the News Observer, 1946–1969
3. Black Beauty Culture in the Pages of Contrast and Share: Local Beauty Salons, Department Stores, and Drugstores in the 1970s and 80s
4. Global Conglomerates Take Over Black Beauty Culture: The Ethnically Ambiguous “Multicultural” 1990s
5. The Politics of Black Hair in the Twenty-first Century
Purchase at Amazon
Purchase at Wilfrid Laurier Press
Read my interview in this Pride magazine feature on black hair around the world
By Wedaeli Chibelushi | August 10, 2018
A trip to the hair shop is often an essential part of many black women’s life experience, across the diaspora. However, when it comes to who’s selling, it is rarely the same people who are buying the products behind the tills. Wedaeli Chibelushi explores what the black hair industry looks like around the world.