Stylist Compares Woman's 'Black Girl Curls' to an 'Animal' -- Not OK. At. All.

Hair salonOne step forward, two giant leaps backward. That’s what it seems like is happening with racial and social tolerance in America. You would think that in the aftermath of all this pointless violence that is claiming the lives of innocent people (many for no other crimes than being in the wrong place at the wrong time and simply being who they are), folks would try to show a little compassion for their fellow humans in everyday life -- and not just in the days following a tragedy. Well, that certainly wasn’t the treatment Bianca Dawkins received when she stepped into a Minneapolis salon for a scheduled appointment and had a stylist call her natural hair "an animal that can’t be tamed."

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Seriously, WTF. 

Now, as a black woman, I am not being overly sensitive, nor will I tolerate any other excuse that anyone may throw my way in order to justify this blatant show of disrespect.

Dawkins, who called Denny Kemp Salon and Spa prior to the appointment and gave an explanation on her hair type, was not only insulted, but the entire situation quickly became racially offensive for no reason at all.

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Along with making the initial comment, the stylist then had a few other stylists in the salon come over to ogle Dawkins's natural curls.

That is what prompted Dawkins to ask if the salon could style black girls' hair. The stylist then proceeded to tell her, "Well, it isn't the 1950s or '60s, where we can just put up a sign in the window."

Pause, right there. Her racial identity didn’t have to be a factor in this conversation. If he didn’t know how to work with natural hair, then he should have just said so. Period.

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After Dawkins took her traumatic experience to social media, the salon offered a politically correct apology via Facebook, writing:

Today, one of our stylists made some comments to one of our clients that were inappropriate. Though we believe that our stylist meant no harm and simply spoke inarticulately, his words were perceived as hurtful and completely contrary to what our salon stands for. ...

Well, these "hurtful" and "inappropriate" comments are just the latest in an ongoing discussion of black culture and society, but there is an underlying issue that is swept under the rug when it concerns black hair.

Why is it that society loves black hair styles, but hates black hair?

It’s no secret that black hair is currently "in." That is, popular culture is just now catching up to the styles that African-American women have been wearing for centuries and now claiming them trendy.

The problem is that society doesn’t always want to give credit where credit is due, and it even tries to re-brand styles with new names that strip the style of its cultural association.

In a time where magazines are offering tips to women on how to get afros and cornrows, it's not a stretch for a black woman to walk into a beauty salon -- after having called ahead to explain her hair treatment -- and expect service.

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Hair is a sensitive subject for black women in particular. For hundreds of years, black women have been criticized for not looking "European" enough. 

As someone who has spent countless hours having my hair pressed with that dreaded hot comb (I still flinch when something hot gets close to my neck) so that I could have manageable straight locks, hair is that big of a deal. 

It's only been in recent years that the natural hair movement has garnered mainstream attention -- showing that natural curls should be celebrated and not vilified because it doesn't fit the "good hair" standard. To compare a woman's hair to a wild animal is just wrong. 

Dawkins is choosing to turn this instance into a positive one by shedding some light on natural hair to beauty industry officials in Minneapolis. She is hosting a panel discussion titled Black Hair Matters: A Panel Discussion on Natural Hair. 

And going by the unnecessary and offensive comments of the stylist that Dawkins encountered, it's time that this conversation was had, and had at length. 

 

Image via Anna Baburkina/Shutterstock

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