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Bad makeover of black woman's hair on Today Show points to bigger issues in haircare industry


Anyone watching the Today Show on Wednesday probably didn't think much about a segment titled "One Minute Summer Hair," until a minute after it was over and the video went viral.

Why? A black model featured in the segment ended up with hair that looked like a bird's nest, after Deepica Mutyala, the show's resident beauty expert, attempted to style a side-pony with bangs that went horribly wrong.

 

Honestly, none of the styles looked that great, but viewers, particularly black women, did not let the fact that Mutyala turned the model's hair into a frizz ball go unnoticed.

That segment just didn't go over well, but in some ways it went hand-in-hand with another issue in black hair that cropped up this week.

A former Atlanta woman, who now lives in Iowa, was at the forefront of a civil lawsuit which claimed that forcing hair braiders to get a cosmetology license negatively impacted their ability to earn a living in Iowa. (In Georgia, hair braiders have been exempt from cosmetology licensing since 2006.)

Last month, the Iowa governor exempted Iowa braiders from the cosmetology licensing laws and the lawsuit was dropped. Now braiders in the state only need to register.

Aicheria Bell, in an interview with The Atlantic , described how challenging it would have been for her to obtain a cosmetology license and more important, that most of the schools she went to focused on Eurocentric hairstyling, not African-American hair or styles such as braids and dreadlocks.

A cosmetology license could cost up to $22,000 and require 2,100 hours depending on the state and who has that kind of time or money to throw around when you're not even getting the kind of training you want?

But this all goes back to how a disaster like the Today Show segment could happen. Even if Mutyala was an actual licensed hair stylist, chances are high that she probably would have never learned how to style black hair.


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About the Author

Nedra Rhone has been a features reporter with the AJC for 10 years. She’s written about everything from fashion to food to news.