We tend to keep our hair nice and short, partially because it absolves us of a lot of hassle, and partially because of our receding hairline. So we've never had to worry about going to special hair care places for styling and such. And though we're sometimes jealous that we may never get to whip our hair around in the middle of a mosh pit, we're mostly grateful to not have to worry about or someone burning our bodies with scalding water while braiding our hair.
Which is what happened to two women who are suing two separate African hair braiding shops. Shena Washington, 45, told the News that she felt like she was being "burned alive" when she was accidentally doused with hot water at the Union African Hairbraiding shop in Harlem earlier this year. Karla Santiago, 28, said she suffered second-degree burns to her stomach and arm at Tina's African Hair Braiding in the Bronx last month.
Harlem hair stylist Veronica Forbes of Veronica's Beauty Rama urged women to check to see if their beautician is certified: "When you walk in, look for a license. It's supposed to be posted where you can see it...And no operator, if they are a responsible person, should get an attitude for someone asking to see their license." But some in the hair braiding community say that the cosmetology industry is "the last legal bastion of chattel slavery in the United States," because licensing costs thousands of dollars and gives no training in natural hair styling, a skill which is generally passed down by family members. A state Division of Licensing Services official told the News that the lack of formal training accounts for the safety concerns: "It's the Wild West in a lot of braiding shops."