Our hair practices are still problematic

Our hair practices are still problematic

On my hair course on Sunday we had a session on dry scalp, lost edges, and the different forms of Alopecia with the splendid Trichologist Ebuni.

I’m appealing to everyone reading this blog post to please introduce simpler hairstyles into your regimen before you do irreparable damage because prevention is really better than cure. And as much as there are zillions of potions and lotions proclaiming to grow hair back, really, there are a limited number of prescription-only drugs proven to work and these drugs don’t work for everyone. I say this as someone who has never fully recovered from damaged edges.

I say this because I am hearing less talk about practices that lead to damage and more talk from commentators and practitioners who ‘seemingly’ find it easier to medicalize what’s going on with a lot of black women while shying away from calling out the prevalence of detrimental hair care practices that still persist in our community.

Don’t get me wrong there are many many medical reasons why anyone might lose their hair. It is not all Traction Alopecia! Or hair loss caused by poor practices. But we must be mindful. Yes, we must highlight other causes and issues and demand that those caring for black women step up their knowledge BUT we must do this while simultaneously calling out detrimental hair practices too. To do one without the other is detrimental to the education that still needs to embed amongst black women.

There is still tons of work to be done around educating black women about unlearning and relearning better hairstyle choices.

This is not about blaming black women for their hair loss, rather it is about the education that is still desperately needed. It is not shaming black women to say some wigs or poorly made wigs or indeed excessive wearing of wigs can cause damage to edges. It is an education!

It is not interfering to tell a mum that she may be storing up future problems for her daughter by braiding at the age of 2 or 3 or 4 or 5 or 6 or even 7. Braids and especially braids with extensions should be avoided till girls are past 8!!!

Yesterday I heard a harrowing story of a child forcefully held down to braid her hair until someone called the police!!!! In London!!!

We must continue to shout about these adverse practices!!!!! Because it is not getting through! Not yet.

But now I see all these posts focusing attention on medical practitioners who misdiagnose or dismiss black women’s hair loss. Please don’t get me wrong! yes we need to have this conversation too, but I’d love to see the people tackling their medical colleagues boldly speak to black women about their hairstyle choices too.

The fact still remains that we as black women do the most with our hair. We are still fighting a culture of doing the most. And it is a culture. We are still losing the battle with mums braiding under 5
year-olds hair! We are still trying to convince people not to do back to back braids with girls in boarding school. We are still glueing wigs on our heads! We are still using lace front like head scarves. We are still doing micro braids! We are still using harsh relaxers on children! We are still doing the most!

My overall point is nuanced, so nuanced I hope the message isn’t lost. Yes, we need to fight for parity in this area too amongst medical practitioners. But please, black professionals in this area, you also have a duty to speak up about the practices causing considerable problems within the community. You cannot in good faith do one without the other.

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