In a world where most of us spent our youngest years trying to fit in with mainstream and European beauty standards, finding public spaces where we feel safe and valued can be challenging. How many of us straightened our hair for years, trying to get it to move and swing like the girls in our class only to run home stressed and defeated after a day of intense humidity or getting caught in an unexpected rainstorm? Just as we find refuge surrounded by our peers undergoing similar situations, the hair salon can empower Black girls by letting them know that they no longer need to fit into some arbitrary mold.
The natural hair movement has empowered us, as their mothers, to embrace our hair and has given us the tools, resources, and societal backing to undo years, generations perhaps, of trauma around our hair. Our girls are growing up in an unprecedented (in the best sense of the word) time. The media is finally highlighting and celebrating natural hair in all its various forms.
How the Beauty Salon Impacts and Empowers Our Little Black Girls
Imagine walking into a public space where you're immediately enveloped in a sense of belonging, a place where people understand exactly what you're going through; a public place where you can just decompress and be yourself for a few hours. That is what the beauty salon does for so many of us. For Black women, the salon evokes a sense of home. And for our children? There are few public places where our young girls can experience this full-on attention to their appearance and ultimately their confidence, self-esteem, and well-being. A beauty salon is a place we can rely on to empower Black girls and impact their lives and emotional well-being for the better.
Patience and Perseverance are Invaluable Traits for Our Black Girls
A trip to the beauty salon can empower Black girls in countless ways. We are all well aware that an appointment at the salon can take several hours. It's common for braiding to take up to 6 or 8 hours to complete, and for young children – heck even for adults – this can feel like an eternity. But, what this time in the salon chair can teach our daughters, is that anything worthwhile takes patience and perseverance. And while some may say, 'it's just hair, it's not that serious,' for us it is.
This is time that someone is focusing solely on your child, helping her to feel confident about her natural hair. She's expressing her individuality; she's listened to. It's a time when she can see how being patient and waiting for the end result, can pay off. This lesson will carry her through everything she wants to accomplish in life. Focusing on the task at hand, and working through the difficult parts, holding still when you need to, shifting and adjusting course when you have to; our girls will understand that anything worthwhile takes time, some sacrifice, and a lot of give and take.
The Beauty Salon Teaches the Value of Entrepreneurship
Our girls need to see innovation and entrepreneurship in action, and what better place than the beauty salon? Here she may encounter a wide range of strong Black women, each making a living using their individual strengths; whether that's through hair styling, nail services, and a plethora of other services that make women feel empowered, beautiful, and confident. In the salon they'll encounter women of all backgrounds, working together, all with one common goal. They'll meet women with strong work ethics, who have built a sanctuary for other women in the community. The cultural and humanitarian efforts of the beauty salon, often go overlooked. The salon is and will forever be a place of healing, connection, and sisterhood.
Empower Black Girls By Teaching Them The Importance of Self-care
There is insurmountable evidence on behalf of the mind-body connection and the body's response to stress as it pertains to white blood cells in fighting off infection and disease. By keeping ourselves in balance and practicing self-care, we can greatly diminish the negative effects stress and society have on our well-being.
As Black women, mothers, partners, and all of the other roles we play. We often lose ourselves in the process. Thus, continuing a cycle of putting ourselves last. We recognize that practicing self-care is important. Some of us are trying to be better about it. When our children see us taking time out to put ourselves first, they internalize the notion that 'yes, I too am important.' And so, we've given them a head start to a better future.
When we schedule hair appointments for our daughters, we empower Black girls to recognize their needs and wants. The appointment itself serves as a reminder that there are steps they can and should take to put their needs ahead of the needs of others. A salon appointment is a tangible thing with a tangible result. Taking them to those appointments lets them know you're on their side and you value them. In turn, they will value themselves. And the smile, after all, is said and done, the smile says it all.