Today, I’m fairly certain I had a mini stroke.
While enjoying a healthy snack of cucumber dipped in hummus, I received a harrowing phone call from my swanky hair salon in the District. I was informed that my fabulous hair stylist I’ve had since I moved to the DMV area six years ago was no longer with the salon and that my upcoming Friday appointment was cancelled.
“What in the wicked fuck did you just say to me?”
I demanded confirmation that this wasn’t some kind of sick April Fool’s prank gone extremely awry – my hair is not something I trifle with. My hair is its own entity; something I fear, admire, and undoubtedly give praise to in order to keep this decade long good hair spell going. Oprah herself complimented my hair not once – BUT TWICE in person to my FACE. So obviously, my mane may very well be insured with good reason.
After I was told my stylist leaving was not a joke, I tuned the high-pitched Becky on the other end of the phone out. My eyes narrowed. The corner of my mouth curled. I’m sure my eyes became as dark as a great white’s. I suddenly became irrationally angry – and with white girls.
Now, hold on to your privilege and un-clutch your La Croix. Have you ever stayed awake at night shaking under the duvet and wondering what you’ll do if your hair person ever decides to stop doing hair which will spiral you into a massive depression and therefore, you hope you die first in a freak accident? Then SIT DOWN.
Of course one can easily lose their shit over such a momentous change – I get it, white girls; you’re not going to take hours to balayage your own stick straight hair, and it takes some major skill to have those highlights look natural and on point. BUT. There are PLENTY of salons ranging from premiere to mediocre that can cater to your whimsical hair color change urges that pop up after watching too many YouTube videos – I do not have that luxury.
Must be nice to be able to waltz into a Dry Bar, pout, and wonder who can make your hair look like Mary Kate Olsen’s. I would LOVE to have a life like that. I have never known the joy of walking out of a shower with my hair still wet and upon realizing I’m running late, wink to myself in the mirror and decide to walk out the door for my hair to air dry in a way that’s still fucking manageable. I have never been able to wear French braids and NOT look like the black American Girl Doll, Addy. Humidity has always been my mortal enemy and not in a ‘few fly-aways’ sort of way, more so in a Medusa deconstructed kind of way.
And I’m sure you feel to your core that your hair is just as difficult to work with or find a stylist for, but I’m here to volley the cold hard truth to you on the struggles of being a biracial girl in a white salon world.
“Why not just wear your hair natural?” Don’t worry – I didn’t plan to only hate on the ladies with what I call simple Josie hair (white girls who complain about their hair whether it is straight, wavy, or curly – you’re white. Your hair problems can be fixed with a blow dryer.) I also give grief to the black stylists who have told me to go natural. Oh. Okay. ACES. I’m only a multi-racial woman in the white world of business and why wouldn’t I want to grow out my roots and look like shitty ethnic Barbie? Not to mention hair maintenance would dramatically change adding on hours of time not just weekly – but daily – and bring along a learning curve that would eat up all free time and possibly cause an emotional breakdown. So unless you’re going to come and straighten my hair daily, thank u next.
“Just wear your hair up until you find a new stylist.” Not only do I abhor wearing my hair up, pony tails cost me. Do you know what kitchens are? I’m sorry. You’re familiar with breakage, yes? If I want my hair to be voluminous and long now and into my 50s, I have to let ballerina buns only be for small unskilled dancer children. Have you noticed Meghan Markle constantly wearing her hair up during her pregnancy? She’s not just trying to school in the art of the top knot, girl’s roots are growing out because she can’t get a relaxer while preggo – especially not with a future royal cooking in her stomach. Meg for SURE has someone making sure her edges and ends look seamlessly straight and is putting her hair up in a way that isn’t going to force her to chop it postpartum. It probably has taken her entire natural life to grow her hair that long and she ain’t about to mommy bob it for some British brat.
“Just see someone else at the salon.” Super cute, are you brand new? WHAT a novel concept. If it were that easy, I wouldn’t pop Xanax every time I’ve traveled somewhere and made appointments at salons away from home since I can’t haul my beauty products and styling tools everywhere – where would my clothes go in my suitcase? Very few have been able to handle my hair outside of the only two goddesses I’ve trusted in my lifetime. Weaker stylists have been overwhelmed, over-confident, and straight up over hearing me direct them every step of the way only to STILL fuck everything up.
In addition, not a lot of stylists learn how to do hair that belongs to those of other ethnicities, it’s just that sad and simple. Majority of salons don’t offer the treatments I require to have ‘the good hair’ or don’t understand the difference between natural black girl hair and treated biracial girl hair. The worst part is, it’s not just because the techniques aren’t offered, it’s because some stylists just aren’t interested in learning them because they don’t want to cater to that clientele. Which is why the beautiful black people live in urban areas and not fucking Kansas.
Of course, it isn’t all shit storms and a graveyard of hot combs. People compliment my hair constantly because yes, it is magnificent; but it took a solid 15 years to get comfortable looking in the mirror and liking what was on top of my head and learning how to manage it. And it’s mostly all thanks to some pretty incredible women (both white and black) who are freaking amazing at what they do who wanted to help hopeless curly headed weirdos like me. Not to mention the plethora of products applied in a precise order that allow me to attempt to replicate their magic on my own.
“Your hair always looks amazing.” Well, it FUCKING better – it costs enough in both money and blood. Sure, I can sleep on waves and wake up to them looking better than they did the day before, minimal brushing required. And sure, I only have to wash my hair once a week because it doesn’t get as oily as fast which is great because I’m hella lazy. But it’s important to know that this isn’t a ‘grass is greener’ situation; it’s a cultural peril that I’ve had to navigate in my life which all of the aforementioned only scratches the surface of. So enjoy your one texture fits all shampoo – I’m just over here ecstatic VO5 isn’t the ONLY product available for my hair anymore.
Catherine is a native Detroiter currently residing in Washington D.C. She has seven years of experience in digital marketing strategy and communications. She enjoys the occasional Pop Tart and shamelessly eats breakfast burritos on weekday mornings. Catherine is certified in Google AdWords, SEO, content marketing, social media, and sarcasm. Catherine is also partial to dresses and skirts over pants and has been mistaken for many daytime cable show actresses.