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The role of hair stylists in the Black community: ‘Getting your hair done is self-care.’

Provided by Lauren Jones

Lauren Jones is a sophomore and hairstylist at Mizzou and spoke a little bit about her own relationship – and past – with her hair, as well as about how hair can impact the mental health and well-being of other people in the Black community.

She also spoke about the role she gets to play, as a stylist, in helping people see the beauty in their hair.

Missouri Health Talks gathers Missourians’ stories of access to healthcare in their own words.

Lauren Jones: I've been doing hair since – well, when I first learned to braid, I was four, and I just always have loved doing hair. I like artsy things. I love to draw and paint, and I'm a huge fan of abstract designs.

There's basics in the Black community – I feel like hair, skin, and fashion. I feel like hair probably comes above all of that, in my opinion.

Like, after you look at somebody's face, the closest thing to their face is gonna be their hair. So, that's honestly one of the first things when I look at somebody – I might not even look at their face first, their hair might catch my attention first.

And then, you know, growing up, hair is always a big thing like in little girls and little boys, too.

So, my mom used to do my hair until I was probably in third grade, and I told her, “You cannot do my hair anymore because…” She would do the twin beads and barrettes, and I really hated that – I thought I was too grown up for that. So, that’s when I really started doing my own hair.

I just always loved doing hair – like ever since I could braid and stuff like that. So, it has just always been fun to me. Like, not only is it a job, because at firstI wasn't really charging, for real, to do hair. It just happens to be a hobby that I'm good at and can make money off of.

So, I actually offer quite a few services. I do knotless braids, soft locs, butterfly locs, loc retwists, wig installs, quick weaves, sew-ins, natural hairstyles. I just really like doing it all, honestly.

People don't go out when their hair isn’t done just because you don't feel cute and who wants to go out when they feel ugly?

Hair doesn't define you, but it's so hard when the way you've been raised is like, “Oh, you didn't keep your hair done. Your hair needs to be straightened up. If you go out with your hair looking a mess, nobody's gonna want to talk to you and all that.”

So, I do really think that is a huge thing. Like that's real. I would say this is a common thing among Black people.

My hair – like, I know my hair is beautiful, but it's just – sometimes wearing my real hair makes me feel like a kid or, I don't know, I just won't feel cute maybe. I feel like a lot of people have this thing where they need to have their hair done in order to feel pretty or beautiful or whatever.

Because getting your hair done is self-care. So, when you do little things to make yourself – like I said, when you look good, you feel good. So, if you think you look pretty, or whatever, you're gonna feel better. Whatever's going on in your life outside of the hair appointment, you're just automatically gonna feel better.

It's like – seeing somebody smile after their hair is done, like to satisfaction of “Wow, I did that.” Now they feel like, “Oh, my hair's done. I feel nice,” you know? When a client likes something, it makes you feel really good.

That is one of the things I like about doing hair – a style may take a really long time, or I may be tired while I'm doing it, but when I see the end result, I'm like, “Yeah, I did that.”

Dominique Hodge is a junior at the University of Missouri studying cross-platform editing and producing. She is a reporter/producer for KBIA's Missouri Health Talks.