Have you ever had the experience of walking passed a hair salon in a mall and one of the staff members is outside of the store chatting to passerby’s and giving out samples? Well I have–and every time the employee either looks awkwardly at me and doesn’t say anything or just smiles. Despite the fact that she just offered the person walking ahead of me, some information about the particular product.
I’m not quite sure why in 2019 this whole issue of the ‘mainstream’ hair industry not understanding or just ignoring an entire segment of society still prevails… But I can assure you that if I randomly walked into a salon in a mall or strip plaza and asked to see a stylist for a consult, they’d squirm and act all kinds of awkward. Unless of course, they had a stylist that was ‘comfortable’ with coily or afro textured hair. Side note–I detest when people use words such as ‘coarse’, ‘tough’, ‘kinky’, ‘nappy’, or other disparaging words to describe black or tightly coiled hair.
So my question is this: if we really are all connected and none of us is separate from the other–as Buddha promised, then why do I often feel misunderstood or underserved by non-black hair stylists when it comes to my hair?
Listen, I get it– if you’re not black, black hair can be a bit of a mystery. But in my opinion, people of all hair textures should be afforded the luxury of getting their hair done wherever they choose. Likewise, I have a few Asian friends that tell a similar story when it comes to getting their hair done.
My cousin has been an actress/television host for over twenty years and constantly comes up against hairstylists who know don’t know how to style her hair. In fact, she often has to bring her own hair and makeup items to sets as a response to stylists who don’t know how to work with coily textured hair or darker skin tones.
Famed actress Gabrielle Union put out the following tweet earlier this year: ‘The pressure to “just be happy they picked you & you got a job, don’t ask for the SAME things every other actor/model gets on GP…” Listen, if u stay quiet, u WILL have bald spots, hair damage, look NUTS (tho they will tell u its cuuuuuuuuute )’
People in the industry have argued that cosmetology schools have dropped the ball when it comes to educating stylists on how to work with varied hair textures–to which I maintain that it is up to individual hair stylists to seek out knowledge on their own. Put it this way, what type of trainer would I be if I only worked with people of a particular ‘body-type?’ Answer: Not a very good one.
**Check out Mona Baltazar , a famed NYC stylist who’s main focus is on cutting, styling, and creating shapes and silhouettes for curly-haired women of all textures.