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Ratings and Book Reviews ()

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  • I wish you could give half stars

    I liked it but as a dark skinned black female, most of the themes Emma touched on I already knew about as it was my lived experienced. Also there were parts that were wayyyyyy to academic for me (especially as someone who only has level 2 education). I get she is a professor but it was too difficult to understand and I kept having to look words up. Apart from that the book was worth it!

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  • An important read

    ‘Strand by strand, the past is weaved skilfully together with the present’. As someone with Type 1B blonde hair, Don’t Touch my Hair was an eye-opening and educating read. Emma Dabiri explores a wide range of topics and takes us on a journey examining African history, slave trade European influences and modern-day pop culture through the lens of beauty standards and hair dressing. There’s a lot to learn here and some things I had to Google, unaware that such things could actually be true (there was actually a petition to comb Beyonce’s child’s hair!?) There’s some beautiful pictures in here as well, both of traditional hairstyles and also a few advertisements that show a (thankfully) bygone era. Dabiri also weaves in her personal experience of growing up mixed race in Ireland, where she tries to tame her hair with poisonous chemicals and damaging hot combs. There’s certainly a lot to learn in here, however the book seemed to be billed as a popular market book rather than an academic paper and this is emphasised by its blurb. I did find in places it was very much an academic piece and some of it felt quite dry and difficult to progress through. I felt that the structure was a bit of a mess, the chapters didn’t seem to link up and we jumped timelines quite a bit throughout with some repetition in places. I also personally would have loved a few more photos in the book as they are used well in parts, but photographs of the women discussed such as Fairy Mae Bryant would have been welcome. It did encourage me to do a lot of my own research though which was nice! The book is also well formatted for the Kindle, with interesting asides worked into footnotes that are in the bulk of writing (just a different colour) and reference footnotes just noted and then presented at the end of the book. Overall, Don’t Touch my Hair was an eye-opening and important read. Thank you to NetGalley, Penguin UK Books and Allen Lane for the chance to read the ARC in exchange for an honest review.

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