Fall has arrived and school has begun for most students throughout the nation and abroad. All over the country female scholars are returning to the classroom; many of these females have entered college dorms for the first time and amongst this population, one of the most popular topics has been back to school hair. With many young ladies away from home for the first time for an extended period the responsibility of managing one’s hair independently can be both exciting and nerve wrecking. A majority of both HBCU’s and TWI/PWI institutions lack hair care facilities and the notion of trust is hard to come by with a stylist; thus several young ladies seek styles that are extended stay-conducive. Amongst the list of extended stay styles are individual braids/twists, both full and partial sewn in weaves, and clip-in extensions. Each of the previously mentioned variations of extensions is thought to save young ladies from the hassle of having to maintain their hair on a regular basis.
While these sustainable styles are sensible it is a wonder if these young ladies are going to be missing out on some of the intrinsic aspects of the beauty salon and beauty culture? Could young ladies benefit from the atmosphere of the salon during their ventures into the post-secondary educational realm? How will the intellectual shifts these young ladies experience in college affect their beauty decisions?
How should the black beauty community respond to this to ensure that the young ladies who have been entrusted into our care in salons, kitchens, and other intimate spaces are well taken care of at such a pivotal time? How should the collegiate institutions respond to this?
Historically, some black institutions including Tuskegee University, under the administration of founder Booker T. Washington embraced black beauty culture on campus by including cosmetology programs in their respective course offerings which allowed women to financially support themselves while attending their respective university. While there are many cosmetologists on collegiate campuses and friends who help maintain each other’s hair, the space of the salon is missing and beauty culture is not an area of focus even though, paradoxically it is it affects students in one way or another on a daily basis.
So as we sit young ladies in our chairs to give them extended stay hairstyles or reflect on those who have already traveled to school, as we shower our ladies with maintenance products, and drop them off to their dormitories, let’s think about how to uplift them through beauty culture as they venture into the realm of post-secondary education and essentially the rest of their lives.