A Model's Criticism of Backstage Hairstylists Incapable of Doing Natural Hair Is a Must-Read

Image Source: Getty / Melodie Jeng

A model is drawing attention to the need for hairstylists who are able to style natural hair, particularly backstage at runway shows. Following an upsetting experience, Olivia Anakwe shared a lengthy post about the fashion industry’s persistent diversity problem both at the forefront and behind the scenes. Alongside videos of herself getting her hair done by two black hairstylists, Anakwe began her post, “This message is to spread awareness and hopefully reach anyone in the hair field to expand their range of skills.”

Anakwe went on to recall a recent series of events at an undisclosed fashion show that led to her sharing her post in the first place. For starters, the model was told to get out of a chair that wasn’t previously being used, and she said several hairstylists blatantly ignored her. Though she was supposed to wear her hair in cornrows for the show, Anakwe said not a single hairstylist present was equipped to do so. After she said a hairstylist “pulled my edges relentlessly,” Anakwe finally learned that the show’s manicurist was able to help — which, by the way, meant she had to momentarily step away from her own work.

Of the whole shoddy experience, Anakwe put it best when she simply said, “This is not okay. This will never be okay. This needs to change.” She then urged fashion show producers to hire truly well-rounded hairstylists or hire black hairstylists knowledgeable about working with various hair textures. Anakwe asked, “Black hairstylists are required to know how to do everyone’s hair, why does the same not apply to others?” She added, “I was ignored, I was forgotten, and I felt that . . . It’s 2019, it’s time to do better.”

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This message is to spread awareness & hopefully reach anyone in the hair field to expand their range of skills. Black models are still asking for just one hairstylist on every team no matter where your team is from to care for afro hair. I was asked to get out of an empty chair followed by having hairstylists blatantly turning their backs to me when I would walk up to them, to get my hair done. If I am asked to wear my natural hair to a show, the team should prepare the style just as they practice the look and demo for non-afro hair. I arrived backstage where they planned to do cornrows, but not one person on the team knew how to do them without admitting so. After one lady attempted and pulled my edges relentlessly, I stood up to find a model who could possibly do it. After asking two models and then the lead/only nail stylist, she was then taken away from her job to do my hair. This is not okay. This will never be okay. This needs to change. No matter how small your team is, make sure you have one person that is competent at doing afro texture hair care OR just hire a black hairstylist! Black hairstylists are required to know how to do everyone’s hair, why does the same not apply to others? It does not matter if you don’t specialize in afro hair, as a continuous learner in your field you should be open to what you have yet to accomplish; take a class. I was ignored, I was forgotten, and I felt that. Unfortunately I’m not alone, black models with afro texture hair continuously face these similar unfair and disheartening circumstances. It’s 2019, it’s time to do better. || #NaturalHair #ModelsofColor #BlackHairCare #HairCare #Message #Hair #Hairstyling #Backstage #BTS #AfroTexturedHair #Afro #POC #Braids #Message #Spreadtheword #Speak #Awareness #Growth #WorkingTogether #BlackGirlMagic #Melanin

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Since sharing her post on March 7, Anakwe has inspired a similar conversation to take place in Hollywood. Actresses including Gabourey Sidibe, Natasha Rothwell, Gabrielle Union, and Yvette Nicole Brown all chimed in on a thread in response to Anakwe’s original post. (In fact, their thoughtful and candid responses even inspired a Twitter Moment.)

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