Finding a salon that caters to natural hair is a hard business. As anyone with natural hair knows, few stylists of the industry have been trained to work with natural strands. The right stylist means that you can rest easy in the salon chair knowing that your hair will be styled and treated in a way that will prevent any serious damage to your strands. A good beautician means no breakage, no heat damage, and no hair loss.
A new bill coming out of Tennesse poses a threat not only to the stylists who have worked for their natural hair training but the clients who embrace and love their natural hair.
House Bill 1809 is a new piece of legislation pushing to deregulate the natural hair industry.
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The bill, which is being sponsored by Senator Mark Norris, is making its way through Tennessee’s general assembly and proposes to put an end to the regulations that monitor the natural hair industry. One aspect of the bill will work to remove restrictions that require natural hair stylists to adhere to the sanitation or safety rules created by the State Cosmetology Board. The other will no longer require hairstylists to obtain a professional license that guarantees that they are certified to care for natural hair. Should the bill pass it will go into effect on January 1, 2019.
Beauticians and hair instructors are hitting back at the bill because of the threat it poses.
Let’s say NO! https://t.co/QIpBDsoIYl
— Tiara's Place (@tiarasplace) February 14, 2018
For many of the natural hair stylists, barbers and instructors living in Memphis, the bill raises concerns regarding the value and meaning behind their licenses. Certified natural hair professionals are required to invest in the continued education of their specialty. Their licensing ensures the health and safety of clients and ensures the minimum competency of a hairstylist.
Once that goes out the window, any stylist will be able to pass themselves off as an expert natural hair stylist. Meaning clients could sustain all types of serious damage to their hair including severe hair loss. As one hairstylist explained to LocalMemphis.com, one of the most severe effects of the bill could be traction alopecia. “I I see people who are operating out of their home, or unlicensed, or uneducated, and I see the result of [traction] Alopecia, the result of all types of damage,” Tamika Turner, who is the owner of Tennessee’s First Natural Hair School, told LocalMemphis.com.
The bill sends the message that Black hair is not important.
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The lowering of health and code standards when it comes to Black health and hair care is, of course, nothing new. Most of the hair companies that exist today live by the old beauty standards that never catered to or, truthfully, cared about Black hair. These companies don’t market to us and when they do, they primarily push treatments (i.e. relaxers) that strip us of our curls.
In an interview with TeenVogue, celebrity hairstylist Kendall Dorsey explained that “Deregulating natural hair is really saying that natural hair isn’t important,” she said. “The regulation is there to protect us as the professionals. We need to work on the proper education or the appropriate license for hair braiding, which is not included in cosmetology classes.”
This new bill’s proposal highlights that despite the fact that we’re in a time where natural hair is being celebrated, the health and care of the Black community is still low priority for government officials. It is essential that we are given the right resources that will allow us to keep our hair safe.