There was a discussion recently on the HuffingtonPost.com about whether the rise in natural hair spells the end of black salon culture. The author, Cassandra Jacson (who herself is natural) says:
Yes, there are salons for natural hair, especially in major metropolitan areas, like Atlanta, D.C., and New York. But the natural journey is not salon focused. In fact, natural hair allows for a certain amount of freedom from salons, which is good because many natural salons cost significantly more than traditional ones. For some who are natural the cost of certain curly salons is prohibitive. In addition, there are regions where natural hair salons are few and far between. The focal point of the natural hair community seems to be online message boards and YouTube, rather than beauty shops.
My experience with salons and natural hair is vastly different from the beauty shop culture. I go to the salon no more than twice a year. Recently, I crossed one of the most powerful color lines in America: I let a white girl do my hair. She gave me a good cut, and I was back on the street in 20 minutes. In comparison, my mother whose hair is chemically straightened goes to the beauty shop every two weeks for a couple of hours. She comes home smelling of oil sheen spray and full of news. She knows everything, from the platform of candidates for the school board, to the proposed sight for the new grocery store, to who was admitted to the hospital last night. She is not just informed; she is engaged, full of laughter, concern, and outrage.
My mother is part of a powerful community that I remember fondly. When I was teenager, my hairdresser’s abusive husband showed up at the beauty shop demanding that she come outside. My mother looked up from her chair and told him to leave. A dozen heads, some in rollers, others dripping with hair dye, nodded grimly at him, before he scurried out. We could not stop what he did at home, but the beauty shop was our space, our time, our community.
Jackson goes on to say:
Right now, the beauty shop is still there, but I am not. I will not take my daughter there because I want her to love her perfect springy curls. She will hear me laugh with my sister about the time that she ‘kissed’ my ear with a hot straightening comb, but my daughter will never know how such a tool of pain could evoke such warm intimacy. I want her to love her hair as it grew out of her head, but I also want her to know a place where tired black women can shame a man with a word and look. But I cannot have it both ways.
Hmmm…. I see what Jackson is getting at. But I think the decline of the black salon has far more to do with intense competition from Brazilian, Dominican and Egyptian salons — which black women are flocking too — and far less to do with natural hair. What are your thoughts ladies?