Before I left for college, I made sure I had all of my essentials to get me through the semester. Of course, I double-checked my inventory for school supplies, hygiene products, class fits, and remembered to pack my favorite snacks and food items.
And since I knew I was relocating to a new environment in a rural area for a couple of months, I had to make sure I looked good. I eagerly recollect typing the internet search, “black girl braids,” on Pinterest and scrolling through the page for hours, searching for a cute protective style that would last me for a while. I sent a picture of ombre faux locs to my stylist, a friend who picked up her niche for braiding through the curiosity of learning to take better care of her type 4 hair. And despite having been natural for two years already, I still struggled with managing my curls. Therefore, choosing to wear a protective style made the most sense.
After coming from a background of attending predominantly white schools since pre-school,
it felt so refreshing to see so many girls who looked like me with unique fashion senses, wearing different hairstyles. I would always get inspiration from the laid, intricately braided, lace where, perfectly parted, slicked to the GAWDS hairstyles I encountered on campus every day. The versatility of a Black woman’s hair never ceases to amaze me.
Following a short month, my new growth was visibly showing, indicating it was time for a new style. But I still didn’t know how to do my hair.
I would log onto GroupMe, a group messaging platform used for connecting with other students, and see flyers galore. Through the app, I was plugged into my dorm hall’s group chat, multiple clubs and organizations, class group chats, and my school’s main chatroom. Homemade food plates, party flyers, club interest meetings, artist promotion(s), and Black-owned businesses flooded chatrooms by the minute, exposing me to new people, products, and experiences.
GroupMe made the process easier for connecting with on-campus stylists, most of which had established websites, reviews, and customer photos. If I wanted my face beat for a special event on campus, there were local makeup artists who specialized in different makeup styles. I could walk around the corner to another girl’s dormitory and have my hair effortlessly resemble a trained professional’s work. Nor did I have to always catch a ride off campus to get a fresh set of nails.
But these girls already are professionals. To expertly wash, trim, braid, lay, and style hair is not an easy task; makeup and nail artistry is included. Beauty goes far more beyond just a self-care night.
It takes time, patience, and plenty of practice to acquire the skills necessary to perfect the field, self-taught or not.
Black men’s haircare takes time and energy as well, with learning how to line up a hairline or shapen or trim facial hair. It’s all an art.
Our hair is our crown. It can defy gravity and is seen as a symbol of empowerment and versatility in a society where Eurocentric ‘professionalist’ standards and texterism prevent our most naturalist form of expression.
So, you’re telling me that the hair that grows out of my head isn’t for me?
The world can always use more Black hairstylists, Black makeup artists, and Black nail technicians. There is so much importance in getting styled by a person who looks like you and that knows what you need for your treatment. Most Black hairstylists know how to properly tend to Black hair and know what products to use for healthy length retention depending on the client’s hair porosity and hair texture. Black makeup artists have a more accurate precision on matching skin to a foundation shade for Black customers.
All of this is representation for us, and it matters.
Therefore, HBCUs can definitely benefit from having cosmetology programs/schools at their institutions. The advantages could include stronger enrollment rates, capitalization, diversifying the beauty industry, and creating more representation within those communities.
Incorporating those programs can close the racial divide that is left unattended in a plethora of cosmetology schools that mostly center their curriculum around people with Eurocentric hair textures and/or features.