Chapter 1: “The Big Girl’s Chair:” A Rhetorical Analysis of How Motions for Kids Markets Relaxers to African American Girls

The hegemonic ideology that straight, long hair is the standard of beauty for all women can make it challenging for African American women to explore, negotiate, and define a beauty aesthetic that she can call her own. This ideology begins early and is ingrained in the consciousness of the youngest girls in the community. An example of this dominant rhetoric can be found in the product Motions for Kids’ attempt to market relaxers to young girls and their mothers with the comic book, The Big Girl’s Chair. The story, which tells of a young girl getting her first relaxer, argues that wearing relaxed (straightened) hair is both normative and transformative. Ideological analysis is concerned with understanding how a cultural text embodies and enacts particular values, beliefs, and ideas. This analysis will discuss what Motions for Kids’ The Big Girl’s Chair tells the audience about the culture of African American hair and the implications of the ideology promoted in this story.