Black Lives Matter and The Hairdressing Industry. By Naomi Brooks.
Recent events have highlighted a need for change in society for black people. This goes further than the relationship with police and we need more focus on the daily lives and experiences that non-white people face. As a hairstylist and salon owner this doesn’t exclude the hairdressing industry and here are some key changes I feel could be made to support the BLM movement.
Curriculum – Currently education establishments do not offer afro hairdressing within the curriculum. Before now it was available as optional course which you study outside of the standard NVQ. In order for there to be equality in the industry afro hairdressing should be included in the curriculum as mandatory because right now black men and women don’t have the luxury of going into any salon they please to be serviced.
Competitions - Having platforms for afro hair types. A lot of competitions used to have an afro hair category and the majority have been removed. Why is that? Lack of entries, lack of awareness, lack of skilled stylists to enter or just being overlooked. Afro hairdressing is the most diverse and creative form and should have platforms to showcase that as well as black hairstylists.
Education – For the workforce on racism, injustices and micro aggressions. That may look like team meetings where each member of responsible to teach what they have learned to the rest of the team around racism, micro-aggressions and cultural appropriation. Training days that incorporate afro hairdressing and black culture. Maybe even setting initiatives and targets based around reading recommended literature or afro hair history.
Discussions & knowledge - Create diverse teams behind the brands. Employ black people within your organisations who have a voice with power and influence. As well as someone who can tell you the impact from their perspective. Hire black stylists on creative teams ESPECIALLY when the models casted are black and the stylists nominated aren’t experienced to do the job, as this happens all to often.
From personal experience I have a number of models who I work with tell me they’ve had to do their own hair and make-up on a number of occasions. I was even called from backstage at LFW by a model to ask if I could come backstage to help with her hair as it wasn’t going to styled for the shows, as the stylist hired couldn’t do her ‘type of hair’.
Equality - Use your platform to show your peers you are in support of them. Saying something is better than saying nothing at all. Silence speaks volumes. But also share their work, showcase afro hair as equally as you would European hair because representation matters to us all.
Most of all it has to be genuine and from the heart. These changes can’t be made because brands and salons feel like they are being forced to stand up and be seen to be doing the right thing.
Let’s do this together.
With love and service.