From Aunties To IG Hairdressers, Black Women’s Hair Ideals Are Changing


You’re reading Gen:Blxck, a series exploring Black culture, history, family and identity through the generations.

My earliest memories of having my hair done are all at home. My mother would braid mine and my sister’s hair before it got too thick for her to manage. Then I met my first hairdresser, a family friend of a friend, called Akosi. I’d travel to her house with my mum and spend the next few hours sitting in between her legs, getting curly box braids (my absolute go-to back then).

But in recent years, there’s been a surge of young Black women getting into the hair industry and using Instagram as a way to find clients. They’re labeled IG hairdressers by the community, and fewer women my age are now going to traditional Black hair salons where ‘Aunties’ typically styled your hair.

Aunties once ruled the Black hair landscape here – we grew up with them and we didn’t have anyone else to compare them to. But now there is a growing ‘Aunties versus IG hairdressers’ debate in the community. And of course there are pros and cons to each.

If you’re looking for a cheap price point, you’d probably want to get your hair done by an auntie. The trouble is, you’re more likely to be waiting a few hours to get your hair finished in the salon as they switch – and chat – between clients.

IG hairdressers, on the other hand, are easier to find and book online and more likely to be able to do a hairstyle they haven’t done before, but they also tend to charge more and often get called out for unprofessional behavior like canceling last minute.

Whoever we trust with our hair, the styles Black women are favoring are changing – and fast. For centuries our hair has been policed ​​by whiteness, but now, Black women are finding a new sense of pride. We’re finding our unique styles, whether that’s braving the big chop or saying ‘no’ to wigs altogether.

It’s been a long journey to get here and even the biggest fans of IG hairdressers will acknowledge we’ve got decades of salon owners to thank for it.

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