The Root: Taking us into the deep, dark world of underground hair braiders

Illinois, having solved all of the more pressing issues in their state, is attempting to pass a law that would require that hair braiders be licensed. 

The bill, expected to be signed by the governor in coming weeks, will require existing hair braiders who have shown they have practiced their craft for at least two years to get a license for a fee. Going forward, those who are new to the industry will be able to obtain a license after 300 hours of training in braiding and creating intricate styles, as well as sanitation.Prior to the bill, hair braiders were subject to the more rigorous standards of traditional hair stylists, estheticians and barbers–who only can obtain a license after receiving a degree, taking up to 1,500 hours and costing $15,000. There are more than 60,000 cosmetologists in the state of Illinois.

But, don’t worry, the article gives us a lot of good reasons why it is necessary to hamper the ability of small business owners who are mostly African American women to practice their craft. 

Charemi Jones, an “occasional braid wearer,” has experienced it all when it comes to hair-related drama. The Chicago police officer’s hair has been braided so tight she had to take Ibuprofen to ease headaches. And once she had a braid rip away from her scalp while she was sleeping.

Now, I’m going to go ahead and take the article at its word when it says that this woman has “experienced it all” and interpret that to mean that she has experienced the worst problems that can occur from unlicensed hair braiding.  Headaches that required over the counter medication.  (If you got a headache, couldn’t you just, you know, take the braid out?)  Oh, and one time some of the hair fell out.  Which would be . . . annoying?  There’s more:

But most current and former braid wearers, who’ve faced everything from hair loss to just bad service, agree that something needs to be done to protect consumers.  “I’ve seen brushes full with someone else’s hair when I sat down in the chair for a blow dry; locks and braids falling off because they were twisted too tightly….

Again, with the “everything.”  Now, I’ve never had my hair professionally braided, so maybe it requires you to be, say, chained down in some irreversible way as soon as you walk into the shop, but I would think that if I experienced bad service or saw brushes full with someone else’s hair, I would leave. 

Also, as an aside, my sister is a school teacher, and she has a lot of students with these sorts of braided styles.  She says that, when their heads itch, they can’t scratch around the braids, so you see the girls just smack their heads periodically to stop the itching.  I’m sure they look super-cute doing that.


One Response

  1. Seems like our Governor has signed this into law. 😦

    Thanks for demonstrating the ridiculous of this concept…hair braid dangers. So much of this little incident bothers me. Basically big daddy taxing…er, licensing, something we all can do. I joke but is cutting my lawn next?

    You rock!

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