Deanne Simms recalls coming into a salon as a teen and being greeted by a woman racing at her from a back room, throwing her hands in the air and shouting, “No, no, no; we don’t do your hair here!” Years later, after she had her first kid, a hairdresser at a different salon informed her that getting rid of her hair’s texture would take centuries and that it was a major “issue to address.”
Simms, a multiracial lady, believes her hair is significant to her and is linked to her identity. She’s become accustomed to hearing comments about her hair or others caressing it without her permission over the years. “That was really tough for me to manage, especially when I was younger. And it left me feeling befuddled and alone at times.”
Simms, a clinical and health psychologist in Toronto, believes in the value of self-care and the significance of finding a space for it where individuals are welcomed, encouraged and appreciated. She claims it took her decades to locate the proper hairdresser.
While there is greater diversity in salons now, schooling hasn’t changed much, and many in the business believe textured Black hair is being overlooked. The program criteria in Ontario contain relatively little instruction on textured and curly hair, leaving customers with no certainty that a stylist is competent in dealing with their hair and stylists feeling unprepared to work in the field.
“For such a large percentage of our society, you’re studying one side in school and entirely not the other,” said Michele Bonnick, a veteran Toronto salon owner, and Simms’ stylist.