Natural Hair Boundaries for Adults

Natural Hair Boundaries for Adults

No More Tears was originally created to help parents and caretakers to do their children’s natural hair. Our webinar’s purpose is to remove tears and distress from your child’s haircare process. We also want to reduce any hair and emotional damage that you, the caretaker, may unknowingly cause during said process. As we explored what the webinar would contain, we realized that No More Tears is so much more. It’s growing into a blog series that helps adults recognize how hair trauma has affected them. The No More Tears blog series is meant to lay the foundation for healing adults. When adults recognize the impact of certain traumas, they will likely do everything in their power to prevent the same thing from happening to their children.

The primary lesson of No More Tears is RESPECTING BOUNDARIES.

Adults tend to lack boundaries when they were ignored throughout childhood and their teen years. We learn to deal with discomfort and rationalize it. Being in pain and uncomfortable is simply part of the process. If you’re a woman, this expectation is even larger. We are taught to minimize our pain in order to make others more comfortable. Can you recall a time when you were in terrible pain, barely able to move, but managed to get everything you needed to done? You probably were able to keep a smile on your face and when asked about your feelings, you swore that you were okay. This mentality of gritting and bearing it seeps into every aspect of our lives.

Today, we’re discussing how to set healthy natural hair boundaries. These boundaries can transfer into every other aspect of your life, as well!

If it hurts, say so.

This goes for physical and emotional pain. Will set through a painful service and not say a thing too often. This often occurs because at some point early on in life we spoke up and were met with a harsh reaction. It taught us to fear someone’s response to “negative” feedback instead of speaking up on our own behalf. We discuss this situation in more detail in a previous No More Tears blog (link- heavy-handed or tender-headed). Let your stylist know if they’re being too rough with your hair or if the style being installed is too tight. If your scalp hurts while it’s being done, it’s going to hurt much more afterward. Many of us are familiar with irritated scalps and painful bumps from too-tight extension styles. There’s no need to suffer for your style.

An example of emotional pain during service is if the stylist makes comments about your hair that make you feel uncomfortable. A few examples are: calling your natural hair “nappy”, “a mess”, and other ways of implying that your hair is inferior to looser curls. Ideally, you should address those comments as soon as it happens. This may feel uncomfortable if you’ve just started to speak up for yourself in the chair. It may take you a while to work up the courage to say something. At the latest, you should discuss this before your service is completed.

It’s important to gauge your stylist’s response.

Remember: you’re in a partnership and you should be treated well. The person you are paying for a service should not be talking down to you or making ignorant, rude comments. This is a service that should make you feel good about yourself. Haircare is self-care. No pain or negative feelings should be attached to it. If your stylist is dismissive or belittles your experience, it’s time to find a new stylist. Full stop.

Express your desires, especially when they are not being fulfilled.

Let’s say you and your stylist agree upon a 1-inch trim. When you’re in the chair you notice that MORE than an inch is being taken off. Speak up immediately. Even if your stylist is cutting off damage, this is YOUR body. Your stylist is not allowed to make executive decisions. Nothing should be done without your informed consent. If you asked for an inch trim but have three inches of damage your stylist should inform you. The two of you should then agree on the next course of action. The same thing goes for hairstyles. Alert your stylist if you notice that what you asked for is not being done. Don’t just stare in the mirror with silent distress.

Professional stylists that care about the quality of work and the happiness of their clients will try to make adjustments to make it work. Sometimes a style mix-up happens because of miscommunication. Other times, stylists are not equipped with the skill and knowledge to do the style. Some stylists will still make the attempt and use improper techniques that cause damage to your natural hair. The style may not turn out the way you envisioned, either. To avoid being unhappy with your hairstyle, discuss what you’d like with full transparency. If your stylist does not take your desires into consideration or blatantly ignores them because “they know best,” find a new stylist.

Foster healthy discussions.

What’s mentioned above is included in this boundary. It’s important to have healthy, productive conversations with your stylist. They may be uncomfortable at first, but they will greatly improve your service. This means that you need to speak up for yourself and try your best to express your expectations. It also means letting your stylist know when they did NOT meet said expectations. If you tell them that they did a great job, but you can’t look yourself in the mirror without getting upset, you’re not having healthy conversations. You’re minimizing your own feelings in order for your interaction to go “smoother.” This ultimately isn’t helpful at all. Healthy discussions also include discussing the state of your natural hair, what sort of regimens you should adhere to, and how that fits into your lifestyle.

If you take anything from this blog, take the importance of advocating for yourself.

If you are a person of color, especially a Black woman, you will have countless experiences where others do not take your comfort and health seriously. Unfortunately, the only way to protect yourself is through advocating. You need to speak up for yourself when something feels wrong, because, frankly, others will not. Learning these boundaries as an adult can be uncomfortable and it may bring up some unresolved trauma you’re working through. That’s why we advocate for therapy (if accessible) and doing the work to heal yourself. As a caretaker, we should strive to instill these boundary-setting skills in our children. This way, they don’t have to learn as adults.

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