Black Hair Matters! And what is “Blackfishing”?

DFG asked Anne about her approach to working with all types of hair and about “Blackfishing”.

“I generally use the term Afro hair but also very curly and textured when it seems appropriate. There are 3 distinct hair categories based on people’s heritage: Caucasian, Asian and African. The term textured hair is generic. I can put texture in my hair while I’m cutting or styling it, it doesn’t mean I have extremely curly hair.

Of course there is the Afro hair style and Afro hair meaning a hair type. Most people who can grow an Afro have African heritage and Afro type hair! Hair is primarily composed of keratin, a protein, which grows from the follicle. Keratins, and other proteins, are formulated in the cells of the hair follicle. All of the proteins become a part of the hair shaft and contain sulphur atoms. When two sulphur atoms pair up and bond, they form a disulfide bond. If the two sulphur atoms in the same protein are at a distance, and join to form the disulfide bond, the protein will bend. This is how curls are created.

Everybody is born with specific hair textures and it may change over your lifetime. The amount of curl, wave, or straightness is dependent on the number of disulfide bonds between hair proteins found in the hair shaft; the greater the number of links, the curlier the hair, and the fewer the number of links, the straighter the hair.

Getting even more technical, we have hair types 1,2,3 &4. Each contains subdivisions A,B,C. Types 4 B & C include very curly hair, including Afro but people of different ethnic heritage can have these hair types. This is very simplified explanation.

Of course, it’s all a bit more complex than this, the chances are you will find more than 1 type of curl pattern on one head of hair. We should all try to just focus on the most predominant pattern. Maybe we should try not to focus too much on ambiguous terms and call it all hair! I’ll continue to use the term Afro most of the time because it makes sense to most people and is accepted and used by my clients. In her book ‘Good Hair’, Charlotte Mensah uses the term Afro hair throughout. If it is good enough for her, it is good enough for me!”

So what do you think about “Blackfishing”?
“Cultural appropriation is when a tradition, such as clothing or a hairstyle, is taken from a culture and used in a different way. It can offend people when people do this without making it clear where the traditions come from, or when they don’t acknowledge how important they are to certain cultures. This can make some people feel as if their culture is not being respected.

“Blackfishing” is an example of this, for example when white people use artificial tanning, make-up or hair styles in order to appear to have African, Arab or Hispanic ancestry or to appear mixed race. Recently quite a few celebs have been accused of it.

Afro hairstyles can be created on wigs or hair extensions pieces that are not really textured or Afro. This means there is still a HUGE gap in the hair industry’s professionals’ knowledge on how to work with textured hair. Even in Hollywood (interesting example here, ‘Euphoria’ star says it ‘feels dehumanizing’ when stylists on set ‘don’t understand Black hair’), so I strongly believe that more needs to be done.
Because Black Lives Matter and so Black Hair Matters, here at Anne Veck Oxford we strongly believe textured hair is not an “exotic” speciality and all our stylist are trained or currently in training to know how to style, cut, colours and treat textured, Afro hair. We welcome clients with all hair types!”


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