Loving your hair is something that should come naturally yet embracing your natural beauty is something that many Black women struggle with due to society.
Bianca Haynes is devoted to not only loving her hair but as a hairstylist and cosmetology instructor at Milan Institute, making sure that other Black women feel comfortable embracing theirs.
One step she has taken towards this is making sure there is more Black representation within the school to draw in more Black students as well. Haynes stated that there is now a Black instructor in each department of the school.
“That was awesome. To be at that level and for us to know that you can reach that level where you can be an educator,” said Haynes. “My goal is to get these girls out of the kitchen. They don’t have to be at home doing hair. You can elevate yourself into the professional realm and really get the money that you deserve.”
Since more Black instructors have entered the school Haynes has seen a difference in the confidence of those who come to get their hair done as well.
“I’ve seen the difference in the people that come in. They’re more confident in just knowing that I’m there. They’re confident in any student…” said Haynes. “We are uncomfortable in certain situations when it comes to our hair and I tell my students that very honestly. Like Black women don’t just play with our hair. You can’t play with our hair.”
Haynes explained that it is always a conscious thought for Black women surrounding their hair. One reason Haynes noted was hair trauma stemming from practices of trying to assimilate into American culture and repeatedly straightening and damaging their hair.
Haynes went on to state that a Black woman’s hair is “political” hence, the Crown Act.
The Crown Act was passed to stop institutional discrimination against the texture of Black people’s hair and their hairstyles.
“Finally, it’s illegal for them to discriminate on use based on our hair texture. That was the loophole, they couldn’t discriminate based on the color of our skin but who’s the only one that has this texture of hair? Us,” said Haynes.
Haynes recalled seeing what hairstyles were acceptable and not acceptable for a job and on the unacceptable side, there were Black hairstyles listed.
“I’ve been in jobs interviews and there’s a list where they say this is what’s acceptable and this is what is not. On this side it’s braids and its locs and it’s the way that my hair naturally grows out of its scalp. You’re telling me that’s not acceptable,” said Haynes.
Haynes noted that she has seen progressions like the Crown Act and women the movement for Black women to wear their hair natural. She loves that she has also seen more women deciding to loc their hair.
“I’ve seen a lot of women locking their hair. I’m a hairstylist I do a lot of starter locs. I do a lot of people just being like alright I’m done and willing to embrace that side of them. They can be just true to themselves and honestly just be who they are,” said Haynes.
Haynes has locs herself and has for the last five years after trying almost every other hairstyle. She was natural for about 6 years before her locs and explained that before that she had perms and relaxers in her hair growing up.
“My hair was very damaged and I wasn’t able to take care of it the way that it was supposed to be taken care of,” said Haynes. “It would break and just want very healthy and I wasn’t educated in how to properly take care of my hair which a lot of Black girls are not.”
This is why Haynes holds classes to teach Black girls and mothers how to take care of their hair. She became devoted to this after learning more about the science of hair and how much relaxers damage the hair.
In these classes, she goes above and beyond to make sure that young girls know how beautiful they are. The tells them how they look like princesses and hypes them up as much as she can. She stated that it is important to instill this in girls starting young that way they can know who they are before someone tries to tell them something different.
“When we’re putting relaxers on our hair and we’re putting harsh chemicals on hair to just fit in. There’s no other reason other than we want to look like Europeans,” said Haynes. “No other reason but we’re doing that to our hair and to our hair follicles and literally killing our hair to have a cosmetic look to look like these people.
Locking her hair was what Haynes described as the best decision she had made with her hair. She stated that she has never loved her hair so much and gotten so many compliments.
“I’ve cycled through every hairstyle known to man. I had the Halle Berry, Fantasia, I had the T-Boz, the fro. I had all of them,” said Haynes. “I did the mohawk, colored it red, purple, I did everything. I did the Moesha, right? I did the Brandy and went through that era. I did everything and I said okay this is it. This is the strongest my hair has ever been, the fastest it’s ever grown.
Haynes also spoke to the need for destigmatizing locs explaining that she has heard that locs are dirty or unkept yet that couldn’t be the furthest from the truth. The stigma comes from ignorance and not understanding hair.
Locking her hair has also been a very spiritual journey because as Black women everything is connected and she explained that a Black women’s hair is her crown. Going through her loc journey helped her in seeing her beauty beyond what society says.
She spoke about the different stages of locs and how many people are afraid to loc their hair because they don’t want to go through what’s considered the ugly stage. Haynes stated that there is no ugly stage. When she was starting her journey she’d walk out of the house and get the most compliments about how fly she looked.
“It’s that realization that you really gotta be connected with yourself and not play into worldly views of what people may think because it may be the opposite,” said Haynes.
When it comes to dealing with the negative comments from society Haynes tries to make sure the young girls she works with understand that those comments are not rooted in truth.
“Before you leave here you’re gonna know the reason they are talking about your hair is because they wish. They wish they could have your hair. They know that your hair is magic. You’re a unicorn out here,” said Haynes reflecting on a young girl who was being bullied at a predominantly White school because of her hair.
When talking about her own hair, Haynes described that she used to wear the most “disrespectful” afro.
“They really feel disrespected when we wear our hair natural. We use words like disrespectful and unapologetic because they really feel like we should apologize for who we are,” said Haynes. “No, we’re not. We’re unapologetic. No, I’m sorry you feel offended but I’m being very disrespectful right now because who are you? Who are you to say that my hair is anything just because it is different.”
Haynes questioned why people feel the need to walk up to Black women and ask to touch their hair. She stated that Black women tend to get prodded and petted because of their hair instead of genuine compliments. So, it’s important to be disrespectful and unapologetic with your hair.
Haynes stated that Black people’s hair is “poetic.”
“It has rhythm. It has music. It has dance, It has life. It has power and magic. It has all of those things.”