Being a black model with natural hair in the modelling industry has seen me face some challenges with hairstylists, not being able to accommodate to my hair type.
The aim of this blog is to raise awareness about the struggles that people with natural textured hair go through and the lack of equal hairstylists there are for all hair types in the industry.
My personal journey with my natural hair has been an up and down affair. I have always loved my natural hair, but it hasn’t always been manageable, which lead to me having a Brazilian Blow Dry at about 13 years old. As I got older, my mum taught me how to embrace and care for my hair properly and I have never looked back.
As a black person with natural textured hair, I have been made to feel that my hair is too bold, loud and unprofessional, especially at school. When I started modelling, I wanted to make sure I wore my hair with pride – showing people that natural hair is beautiful.
As I started to get more work, it came evident to me that there is a lack of equal access to hairstylists in the modelling industry. I have had experiences where people with straighter textured hair have been able get their hair done flawlessly, without any issues. Whereas, I have had to prepare my hair or straighten it multiple times before a shoot to make it easier for the hairstylist. I always feel as though I am doing two jobs – being a model and hairstylist. These experiences are unfair and clearly not equal. For change to happen, hairstylists need to educate themselves on all hair types and textures.
Needless to say, I love having straight hair because it shows versatility and I choose to straighten it sometimes because I love the look or want to do a particular style. However, straightening my hair to accommodate a hairstylist that doesn't know what to do with natural hair, is upsetting.
If you’re struggling with loving your natural hair, please remember it’s a journey and a process, but it’s definitely one worth taking. This world was not built to embrace our natural curls and coils, but beauty comes in all textures. Your hair is beautiful, despite what society says.
I think it’s important that I use my platform to share other people’s experiences. I spoke to Iman Perera - a beautiful model signed to Select Model London, who embraces her natural curls. I've asked Iman a series of questions below, where she has kindly shared some of her very own experiences.
Have hairstylists been able to accommodate to your hair type on shoots/jobs?
"I came to a shoot once with my hair undone and the stylist didn't know how to get my hair curly, even though the photographer wanted it curly, so we had to change the look into a bun for the rest of the day. Ever since then, I have just come with my hair prepared."
Have you ever straightened or prepared your hair before a shoot because you didn’t feel comfortable to wear your natural hair and why?
"Usually I feel comfortable doing my hair myself if it's a natural look, but there have only been 3 occasions where I have felt comfortable after looking at the client's Instagram."
Do you feel comfortable for hairstylists to style your natural hair or do you prefer to do it yourself?
"If it's a natural look, I'll style it myself usually, but if they are going for a specific look, I feel more comfortable."
Have you ever had any bad hair experiences on set?
What advice would you give to someone that is struggling to embrace their natural hair?
"Learn how to treat your hair after a shoot (self care is key), and with any opportunity you can, choose your hair stylists eg from Naps world."
Iman can be found on Instagram @imannperera and you can watch her interview with Naps World - an online hairdressing marketplace app, where she goes more into depth about her experiences here.
I think education, research and understanding is key, in regards to this topic. When I get booked for a job, the first thing that often crosses my mind is... Do they have a hairstylist? Will they be able to accommodate to my hair needs? What will the condition of my hair be like after the shoot? After speaking to Iman and hearing her experiences, I'm sure those questions cross her mind too.
It's so important to have these conversations and to hear other people share their experiences. Please feel free to share this blog, to whoever may need it and let me know if you've experienced anything like this too - remember we're never alone in what we go through! Using our voices to educate and inform can be a powerful thing.
Thank you for reading.