Research Reflections - Week 1+2

I've spent the first two weeks of my research reading and creating and getting responses to my survey. To further guide my reading I am going to begin writing the very early drafts of my final report as I find I can guide my reading more if I know exactly what I'm looking for.

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One of the most positive things to come out of the first 2 weeks of my research is the overwhelming positive response I've had to my survey! It has been so lovely getting emails and messages on social media from other BAME women talking about how important and interesting they think my research is and its been incredibly encouraging.

Since I came up with my research proposal I've been worried that my research is frivolous and unimportant, and that there's no one else out there who actually cares about the research I'm doing. Its been such an amazing encouragement to hear from strangers that they think my research topic is important and that they are excited to read the work I produce. I really hope that I can paint a just and honest picture of these incredible women's experiences and the difficulties women of colour face in regards to their bodies.

Something else I've found interesting (and slightly funny) is the amount of survey responses I've had from women who identify as white (as its a survey only for BAME women), whose responses I will unfortunately have to delete. It could reflect the fact that lots of people are not fully reading my consent form, but more positively I think it shows how much women want to talk about their body hair and how little space they are given to do so.  Women are taught from childhood that the hair that naturally grows on our body is something secretive and shameful, and actually really want the opportunity to talk about it. In our society, where women's natural = hairless, there is no space for us to be honest about our experiences. 

I hope that my research and upcoming interviews (stressful!) can give women of colour a space where they can speak comfortably about an aspect of their bodies and their lives that society has made shameful and embarrassing, and hopefully together we can take a few more steps on our own journeys towards loving our bodies as they come.

In less exciting reflections, my survey closes in just over a week, which means I will soon be moving on to interviews, which is very scary. Its really made me think about what I've learnt about research methods at secondary school and uni, and how strange it is that so much of what I've only looked at in theory I will now be putting into practice. I am going to have to write myself some ethical and personal rules for the interviews to make sure that I am a supportive and empathetic listener, that I ask useful questions but don't push, and that I (obviously) follow all the ethical rules an interviewer must. I think in some ways its lucky that my research is all online because interviews will have to take place over Zoom and I can put a sticky note with all my rules on my laptop screen, and so I can record the meetings much easier to make transcripts of.

Zara Sharif

Student, University of York

Hello! My name is Zara Sharif and I am a 2021 Laidlaw Scholar from the University of York, where I study Education!

My research topic looks at body hair and racialized bullying of teenage girls in UK secondary schools, and how this interacts with the relationship between misogyny and racism.

I chose this research topic because I think we are seeing a cultural shift (in some ways) towards a greater acceptance of body hair, but I've found this shift often leaves out women of colour, and ignores how race and gender can intersect to form teenage girls experiences and their relationships with their body, their sense of self and how they perceive themselves. I also want to see how greater society perceive body hair on women of colour in particular and how social media can influence/shape/change these opinions.

Comments

Go to the profile of Fatima Formuli
3 months ago

Really interesting work Zara! That by-product of your survey response seems quite interesting on its own and I agree that it may be because there isn't really space for women to talk about topics like this (especially anonymously). All the best on your research, and keep us updated!