Olivia Anakwe, 21-year-old Nigerian-American model, recently opened up about a disappointing incident where backstage hairstylists who couldn't style her hair.
According to Teen Vogue, Olivia was preparing to walk the runway at Paris Fashion Week last week when she realised that there was no stylist who could do her hair.
She said her brief was she wear her natural hair in the show, specifically, in cornrows. However, among the plethora of hairstylists, not even one could do her hair.
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@WMag March ‘18 shot by @AlasdairMcLellan || Road-tripped to the amusement park I grew up going to every year and got to relive one of my favorite childhood memories. Thank you to the best @kegrand @duffy_duffy @diane.kendal @bitton @establishmentny || #Wmagazine #SpringFashion #BlackGirlMagic #Melanin #Editorial
She posted a video on Instagram that showed her sitting in a chair having her hair done by different stylists who were attempting to do cornrows, but couldn't.
She says this resulted in her being completely disregarded because no one wanted to work with her type of hair, that she had to stand from her chair and search for someone who could do the cornrows.
"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," she wrote.
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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
Her Instagram message sparked a robust hair discussion, black women in the entertainment and fashion industries opened up about similar experiences they've had.
Using the hashtag #actingwhileblack on Twitter, they relayed stories of how they have to do their own hair instead of relying on the hired stylists.
"It’s either that or take a chance that you will look crazy on screen," tweeted award-winning actress Yvette Nicole Brown.
Seasoned actress, Gabrielle Union, also joined the discussion, encouraging her colleagues to speak out in order to protect their natural hair.
"Listen, if u stay quiet, you will have bald spots, hair damage, look nuts," she tweeted.
Mrs South Africa first princess (2017) Olwethu Leshabane also chimed in after having previously called out the pageant for it's lack of transformation in her blog.
"During the year leading up to the crowning, the black ladies who were participants faced a lot of struggles, one of them being hair and makeup. Considering the fact that this is a pageant and you are judged on the way you look, this was very stressful," she wrote in the blog.
The beauty queen reiterated her point in the discussion. "I said this and addressed it during the reign as 1st princess in Mrs SA...I got such backlash. Black people are honestly disrespected in the arts," she tweeted.
I said this and addressed it during the reign as 1st princess in Mrs SA... I got such backlash.— Olwethu Leshabane (@Olwe2Lesh) March 12, 2019
Black people are honestly disrespected in the arts, but things will change for the better.
Actress Gabby Sidibe says the only way she avoids dealing with hair stylists who cannot cater to black women is to request to have her character wear box braids instead of natural hair.
If they don’t have the budget to hire a black hairstylist for me, or won’t, I just get the director to agree that my character should have box braids or senegalese twist.— Gabby Sidibe (@GabbySidibe) March 11, 2019
A few cosmetology students joined the discussion saying their curriculum is flawed because they are not equipped with the necessary skills to work with black hair.
"In my cosmetology school we focused on how to get z-patterned hair straight and then styled. Never using the natural texture. This was less than 10 years ago using one of the two most popular national curriculums," one commented.
Honestly the cosmetology education is geared towards straighter hair... it’s pretty messed up.. I’m learning way more stuff that has to do with “straighter” hair.. all my dolls have bone straight hair, even the black girl doll ??????— Mont Young (@Montstradamus) March 12, 2019
The cosmetology education also needs to change. My friend said less classes on how to do an outdated beehive, and more classes on styling natural textures and hair products for us— Ashanté Nicole (@ANSTYLEdotCOM) March 11, 2019
A recent Bustle report supports the theory that cosmetology schools may be partially responsible for the lack of diverse skills among hairstylists. Various professionals revealed that they were not taught how to deal with natural hair and kinkier textures.
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