The Terrifying Tale of the Hatin', Scissor-Happy Hair Dresser
Legend passed down from generations of black women has told of a creature known as the "hatin', scissor-happy hair dresser". They appear to be ordinary hair dressers, licensed and properly equipped with the usual styling tools. One usually ends up in their clutches due to mishap -- your usual stylist cancelled, you have an emergency function and you can't do your hair yourself, or you were feeling adventurous to try something "new". However, it happens, you find your heart beating upon sitting in the chair hearing her speculate on damage and what "needs" to be done. You hold your breathe and hope you don't leave the shop with heat damage or half your hair chopped off. The slightest sound of shears or feeling of a flat iron just a little warmer than 375 degrees sets you on edge.
... While I certainly know there are some hair stylists that simply aren't trained properly in natural hair or don't have enough experience with it, I've lately been thinking about the anxiety that many black women face regarding hair professionals. Whether you have a relaxer or wear your hair natural black women tend not to be to experimental when it comes to getting our hair professionally done. We grill stylists and scour Yelp to make certain that we won't regret a choice of a new stylist, more scrutiny than I think we give a restaurant or potential new car. In our eyes, they are unworthy until they've proven themselves.
Which has me thinking about what steps us patrons and the stylistswhose services we seek need to take in order to get to a better place. As a woman with natural hair, I have lots of apprehension to anyone claiming they can do my hair because I've seen quite a few horror stories. I've also seen some positive results, and yet those don't carry as much weight in my eyes. Hair stylists, who may do natural hair or who want to get more experience with natural hair perceive the apprehension and those vibes get transferred. The result: you have a stylist (who is a person first and foremost) who is afraid to mess up, which probably leads to them messing up.
Another part of the problem is that we're all going through this learning process together. The secrets of natural black hair are only recently being unlocked and distributed en masse as publicly available knowledge. Most stylists were not taught in their training how to do natural hair, and are just starting to figure it out. While I understand no one wants to be a guinea pig for those conducting trial and error, I'm hoping that we'll soon be in a place where being natural is no longer equated to DIY hair care and that I'll be able to get the same salon pampering that I grew up on before I became natural.