Sheila's Shop invites us into a Southern beauty parlor to meet working-class African American women. Kimberly Battle-Walters spent over sixteen months interviewing and listening to women at Sheila's Shop while researching this valuable ethnographic work. Literature and the media tend to report either on the lives of upwardly mobile, middle-class African Americans or on the poor, ignoring working-class women. Sheila's Shop focuses on these women, introducing a conceptual model of 'racial and gender victorization' to explain the process by which working-class African American women learn to see themselves as victors rather than victims, despite their complex and often difficult lives. This book also provides insight into the informal support networks that are fostered in public places such as beauty shops-these support networks lay the foundation for strong African American women, families, and communities.
Many African American women show an incredible resiliency that often turns them from victims to victors as they struggle to support their children and themselves. In order to explain how they do it, this insightful book follows a group of working-class African American women who patronize or work at Sheila's beauty shop....This book is a must read for anyone interested in issues of race, gender, and class. Highly recommended. * CHOICE *
An insightful exploration of the importance of the beauty shop for African American working-class women in offering the comfort, community, and social networking that enable them to discuss the unique challanges and experiences they face as well as to identify successful strategies to transcend them. -- K. Sue Jewell, Ohio State University
Lively, candid, cozy, free of jargon, well-researched, and a queller of American historical myths about women. Everyone should read it. -- Yanick St. Jean, University of Wisconsin-Parkside