As the Black Lives Matter movement continues to unearth issues of systemic racism that BIPOC people face daily, a new petition has been created — calling out the hairdressing industry for its Eurocentric beauty standards.
Chrissy Zemura, the Sydney-based hairstylist and educator behind this petition, spoke to BuzzFeed Australia about the lack of education TAFE NSW students receive when it comes to diverse hair types — and the ongoing impacts that it has on both the industry and systemic racism.
Zemura told BuzzFeed Australia: "I've often seen clients walk into a salon with curly or textured hair and seen other stylists get nervous or frustrated about having to take them on because they simply do not know what to do with their hair."
Zemura, who has been working professionally for over eight years, described the challenges she faced as Black woman going through an education system that didn’t properly equip her to do her job: "I went through the TAFE system and I didn't have to learn the science behind textured hair and how to cut, style or colour any type of textured hair — be that anything from curly hair to Afro hair."
"I graduated not knowing how to do my own hair, and that's embarrassing."
Growing up in London with Zimbabwean heritage, Zemura credits her specialist knowledge of working with textured hair to her experiences learning from Zimbabwean stylists.
"The education industry is now acting as the gatekeeper of Eurocentric beauty standards. What are you saying when you only teach people to do one kind of hair?"
And Zemura notes, this lack of education often affects talent in creative industries: "If we don’t have trained professionals on set who know how to work with different hair types, what often happens is that models or actors of colour either have to do their own hair, bring their own products or stylists, or risk having their hair inadequately styled or ruined."
In response to the petition, a spokesperson for TAFE NSW has stated that: "The national training package currently requires training across all natural hair types including European, Asian, Euro-Asian and African, different textures including coarse, medium and fine; and different hair movements including straight, wavy, natural curl and chemical curl...TAFE NSW courses are delivered-in line with these requirements."
Zemura hopes that these changes will ensure that hairdressing services will be more inclusive and actually adequately service the Australian public.
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