One of the things I was worried about when I was considering moving to Regina for university back in 2014 was finding and being able to access the right hairstylists and products for my hair. At the time, there were barely a handful of salons tailored to Black hair or even inclusive of services for afro-textured hair.
The few available ones being beyond my means; as a student. This dire situation led to my friends and I resorting to doing each others’ hair, which included braiding and styling.
Fast-forward to 2016 when I decided to do a “big chop” and it needed to be done by a professional. While gathering information and searching for barbers or salons online, I was barely confident that any of the results I was getting would know how to work on my hair as none of them had pictures especially of people who look like me nor did their customer feedback suggest they had services catering to afro-textured hair. It was needlessly tough and quite frankly too frustrating to find one that I felt could do a decent job.
These experiences are not limited to just me; several of my friends and acquaintances face the same difficulties trying to locate appropriate products and hair professionals properly equipped to serve us. Many have found ingenious work arounds to allow us have a similar quality of life as others, but the question begs, do we have to? Shaving one’s head or only using wigs or hair wrapping should be fully optional as distinct Black approaches to our own hair but they must not be due to pressures of having no access to the adequate service providers.
Now in recent years, I have seen more hair salons owned by Black people and tailored to meet our needs. This has been refreshing to experience. We need more of these to reflect the true demographics of our city of Regina, our province of Saskatchewan and our country: Canada. As a community, we also have to do our best to come through for these pioneers who are coming through for us.
I look forward to times where we have broken every barrier of access to services for everyone as these should be accessible, adequate and available. Everyone deserves access to services with no othering.