The messy waves on social media have gotten out of control. At the risk of alienating Pinterest, I’ll explain, because I have my reasons. I needed a haircut recently, and that meant plunging once more into the depths of the internet to do my research, on both a salon to go to and a cut to get (it is tradition; a series of gnarly tween haircuts mean I’m now very, very cautious). And there, I found myself in an abyss. Photo after photo of messy waves surrounded me. As the owner of thick, curly, Jewish hair, I must write this to say to salons, in the immortal words of Ira Madison III: Keep it. Except, don’t just keep it. Change it.
It’s honestly comical. If you search for “curly” salons on Yelp, the salon images that come back could be pulled from Stepford Wives 2: Williamsburg Edition. I’ve lived outside of D.C. and Chicago, and it’s the same thing there. Even if you just browse popular, highly-reviewed Manhattan salons, the photos—sourced from both salons and customers—are almost uniformly waves that are pretty, but very much the same. It’s style blogger hair, a close relative to sitcom hair, and hair salons need to broaden their range.
To preface, I’m a white woman, so as far as the world goes, I don’t experience exclusion nearly as much as others. That’s a fact, and yet the salon industry is still so intensely stratified, browsing page after page of Yelp photos in search of a hair texture like mine takes hours. There’s a certain kind of stylish salon that excels at social media, and they’re usually among the worst offenders. They’ve got natural light, an airy space, and few, if any, shots of natural curls or kinks to speak of.
It’s difficult to say whether they cut textured curls and just don’t post them on social media, but that’s besides the point. It’s a self-fulfilling prophecy: If I don’t see proof that the person I’m paying knows how to handle my hair, I’m not going to go to them in the first place. In New York—New York!—I can count on one hand the number of salons who specialize in curls, and if you don’t click at one of those usually very expensive places, you’re off the grid and on your own. And even if you do find your dream stylist somewhere else, I’ve learned firsthand that there’s no guarantee they’ll keep you. After getting a great cut from one master stylist and trying to make a return appointment, I was told that person was “no longer cutting curly hair,” and all curly clients were being transferred to other stylists. No reason was given.
Except for how easy straight haircuts must be, I’m not jealous of the waves out there. I’m just annoyed with how pervasive and homogenous these hyper-stylized cuts are on social media. I mean, I get it: They’re pretty to photograph, and they show off highlights and ombre jobs well. And while I’m solidly camp peace luv you do what makes you happy, it feels like our version of the ’50s roller set—the stock image we’ll look back on and say, oof, 2018. Why did everyone look like that?
True, accounts and the aforementioned salons dedicated to curly and kinky hair do exist. Friends and colleagues I’ve talked to have mixed feelings on them, and so do I. On the one hand, it’s nice to have a specific place to go—what I term the Cheers theory, someplace where everyone knows what to do with your hair. But on the other, this “I go here, you go there” mentality just sucks, especially when it leaves women with curly hair and kinks traveling huge distances and paying untold amounts just to get a haircut they like. I know the curly lifestyle well, and for me, cuts can be a huge source of stress (and occasionally trauma, shoutout to the 9th grade). So, a plea for salons on social media: Learn how to cut more than one type of hair, and show it regularly. You’ll get the business.
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