Americanah 4/13

Q: What is the significance of Ifemelu’s battle with her hair from pages 251-264? Why does she need to change her hair? What does it do to her emotionally? Why is this significant in terms of intersectional feminism?

A: Throughout the novel Ifemelu discusses how her hair was always braided back, which was a traditional way for people in her culture to have their hair styled. The reason she had to change her hair was because people thought she needed to fit in with the “American Culture” more when she started looking into getting her green card and visa as well as finding a proper job.

Emotionally this takes a toll on Ifemelu. She doesn’t want to change her hair and doesn’t think it is necessary and just the process of it in general is painful and upsets her. This is an example of intersectional feminism because she being made to feel as though she needs to look a certain way to land a job or to become an American citizen. It is hard for her to bite her tongue in the process and get it done but she does it anyway.

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