A couple of weeks ago I attended an intimidate dinner with five beauty and lifestyle editors and members of the Dove PR team to discuss their new “Love Your Hair” campaign. It was an intimate gathering of all Black and Latina women chatting about our various hair hangups and how we can get to a point of women feeling they have a right to love their hair however they choose to wear it — straight, kinky, colored, cropped, with extensions, etc. In the midst of uncovering all the barriers that keep us from doing just that, one interesting thing that came out of the conversation was all of our hesitancy to speak up when we don’t love our hair – not because of it’s natural qualities, but because we let a beautician have her way with us and didn’t like the finished product.
The client-stylist relationship is an interesting one. Like a visit to a doctor, when you go to someone else to cut, color, or style your hair you do so because they are an expert (and more than likely you’re not). But there’s a lot more subjective input on your end in a salon. When a doctor tells you you need blood pressure medication, there’s little room for argument. When a beautician tells you color B would look better on you than color A, which you had your mind set on, and you should should style your hair like X,Y,Z, you might hesitate to take her suggestions for a bit, but in the end you probably feel like the stylist knows better than you (the person who has to live with the look) so you do things her way — and then end up mad. On the inside.
All of us at the dinner table said most times we tell a beautician we like our hair and then go home and get in the mirror and immediately start fluffing, pinning, and parting our new styles so it actually looks how we wanted it. I’m not great at hiding my disappointment, so while I won’t tell a stylist I like my hair when I don’t, I do tend to begrudgingly tell her “it’s fine” and get out of the salon chair as quickly as I can and go on my way. By my logic, if we got to the point that you’re showing me my hair in a mirror, you actually think what you’ve done to me is okay and if I don’t like it then my assumption is you just aren’t the person to do what I need. Unfortunately, I’ve gone though that same thought process more than once or twice with the same beautician, still holding out hope they could make my hair dreams come true. And when they didn’t — yet again — I sourly said “It’s fine” and picked up my own hair products on the way home.
Some women said they don’t want to offend their stylist so they tell them they like whatever style was created, though Alvarez assured us beauticians actually want feedback, even if it’s negative. Which, in the mind of a woman not being emotional over her hair makes total sense because how else are they going to get better? But for some reason, as women we tend to let our attachment to our hair (and the mixed emotions we likely already have about it and its perceived effect on our beauty and sense of self-worth), mixed with our socialization not to speak up for ourselves keep us from getting the desired outcome, which is a hairstyle that allows us to feel confident and love our hair.
I can’t remember the last time I left a salon totally pleased with the resulting ‘do, but even more disappointing is the fact that I probably never even let the stylists know that outright.
Do you speak up when you hate your hair after your stylist does it?