Foundations for Writing

SCSU Site for English 191

US beauty contests and standards of beauty—and state congressional action


In the US, black contestants in beauty contests are wearing “natural curls.” The Washington Post reports on this trend and also on legislative changes regarding “natural hair” in state legislatures:



This year marks an unexpected sweep in the beauty pageant field: For the first time, Miss America, Miss USA and Miss Teen USA are all black women. Two of the three won their crowns wearing their natural curls.

It has been a notable few weeks for natural hair on other fronts, too: Last month, the California Senate passed a bill that clarifies that traits historically associated with race, such as hair texture and hairstyle, are protected from discrimination in schools and workplaces (and has the unusually winning acronym CROWN: Create a Respectful and Open Workplace for Natural Hair).

This follows a similar move in February, when New York City’s Commission on Human Rights issued guidelines that codify mistreatment at work and schools based on hair texture or style (mentioning traditionally black hairstyles in particular) as racially discriminatory. (

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