Olivia Anakwe, a college student and successful model, sparked a major Internet discussion among Black women in the fashion and entertainment worlds.
The 21-year-old detailed her experience after she worked a fashion show and was told to wear her hair natural. But when Anakwe arrived, there was hardly anyone there who could properly style it, and she shared a clip of two stylists completely butchering her hair.
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This message is to spread awareness & hopefully reach anyone in the hair field to expand their range of skills. Black models are still asking for just one hairstylist on every team no matter where your team is from to care for afro hair. I was asked to get out of an empty chair followed by having hairstylists blatantly turning their backs to me when I would walk up to them, to get my hair done. If I am asked to wear my natural hair to a show, the team should prepare the style just as they practice the look and demo for non-afro hair. I arrived backstage where they planned to do cornrows, but not one person on the team knew how to do them without admitting so. After one lady attempted and pulled my edges relentlessly, I stood up to find a model who could possibly do it. After asking two models and then the lead/only nail stylist, she was then taken away from her job to do my hair. This is not okay. This will never be okay. This needs to change. No matter how small your team is, make sure you have one person that is competent at doing afro texture hair care OR just hire a black hairstylist! Black hairstylists are required to know how to do everyone’s hair, why does the same not apply to others? It does not matter if you don’t specialize in afro hair, as a continuous learner in your field you should be open to what you have yet to accomplish; take a class. I was ignored, I was forgotten, and I felt that. Unfortunately I’m not alone, black models with afro texture hair continuously face these similar unfair and disheartening circumstances. It’s 2019, it’s time to do better. || #NaturalHair #ModelsofColor #BlackHairCare #HairCare #Message #Hair #Hairstyling #Backstage #BTS #AfroTexturedHair #Afro #POC #Braids #Message #Spreadtheword #Speak #Awareness #Growth #WorkingTogether #BlackGirlMagic #Melanin
“This message is to spread awareness & hopefully reach anyone in the hair field to expand their range of skills,” she wrote on March 7. “Black models are still asking for just one hairstylist on every team no matter where your team is from to care for afro hair.”
Anakwe also stated that she was supposed to get cornrows, but not one single person there knew how to do them but never admitted it, and they pulled her edges “relentlessly.”
Thankfully for the model, who’s worked with some of the world’s biggest fashion labels, she was able to get a nail stylist to do her hair, after she first asked two fellow models for assistance.
“This needs to change. No matter how small your team is,” Anakwe wrote. “Make sure you have one person that is competent at doing afro texture hair care OR just hire a black hairstylist! Black hair stylists are required to know how to do everyone’s hair, why does the same not apply to others?”
Anakwe also wrote that this problem wasn’t hers alone, which is definitely the case, as runway model Londone Myers, who also wears her hair natural, shared a similar experience on September 2017.
In that post, she showed herself being completely ignored by hairstylists during a fashion show.
“I don’t need special treatment from anyone,” she wrote on Instagram. “What I need is for hairstylists to learn how to do black hair.”
Myers also posted Anakwe’s message on March 8 and next to it wrote: “I think it’s time we all should start speaking up about our experiences backstage.”
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I don't need special treatment from anyone. What I need is for hairstylists to learn how to do black hair. I'm so tired of people avoiding doing my hair at shows. How dare you try to send me down the runway with a linty busted afro. We all know if you tried that on a white model you'd be #canceled 👌🏽 If one doesn't stand we all fall. If it isn't my fro it'll probably be yours 👊🏽👊🏽👊🏽 #modelsofcolor #fashionweek #noexcuse #naturalhair #blackhair #naturalhaircare #hair #jesustakethewheel #hairstylist #hairstyling
It didn’t take long for Myers’ wish to come true, because a number of Black women in entertainment also shared their experiences, including actress Yvette Nicole Brown.
“Most black actresses come to a new set w/ their hair done (me) or bring their wigs & clip-ins w/them,” she wrote in a March 10 Twitter post. “It’s either that or take a chance that you will look crazy on screen.”
Loni Love also joined the discussion.
“Honey I have brought my whole glam kit, flat irons, pink lotion, Shea butter at times during a new set. I’m tired of looking grey with red lips,” she tweeted on March 11.
Gabrielle Union weighed in, too.
“The pressure to “just be happy they picked you & you got a job,” don’t ask for the SAME things every other actor / model gets on GP.” Listen, if u stay quiet, u WILL have bald spots, hair damage, look NUTS (tho they will tell u its cuuuuuuuuute),” she wrote in her own March 11 tweet.