Asian American

One transracial/transcultural adoptee's search for culturally competent hairstylists...

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As many transracial/transcultural adoptees, and adoptive families to some degree, may have experienced at some point in their lives, finding a hair stylist who understands and appreciates your race and culture's unique hair needs can be challenging especially in smaller communities with limited diversity. For many individuals, regardless of color, finding a hair stylist you trust and understands you and your hair is important for a diverse number of reasons for individuals. And for many white individuals, especially in smaller communities or less diverse communities, the assumed and expected norm is that their hair stylist will also be white. For transracial/transcultural adoptees the assumed and expected norm for adolescent and adult adoptees is that their hair stylist will not necessarily be another person of color especially in smaller communities or less diverse communities. 

I remember growing up white hair stylists used to comment that they didn't know "how to work with my type of hair." Or my sister, who is also a Korean adoptee, would have perms growing up because it made her hair "easier" to work with. When I wanted to start experimenting with hair color, I more often than not came out with the "Asian orange hued" color that is a familiar site on many Asian and Asian Americans and was told by a number of stylists that they just don't know how to dye such thick, coarse, black hair. As adolescents, we are already self-conscious about our appearance, image, style, and our hair is initially one of the most noticeable things about a person. 

It wasn't until I graduated college, and moved to Los Angeles, that I worked with my first Asian hair stylist. She was Japanese and worked in an all Japanese salon. I had never felt so understood, both personally and on a strictly hair level, before that it was hard to realize that this was something that was the norm for some people. I worked with her for about 8 years. She was actually one of the people I miss the most from my time in LA. She was the first to understand what "Asian orange" meant when trying to explain what I didn't want my hair color to look like. She showed me that "coarse, thick, black hair" can be colored in so many different ways to create colors and looks that were unimaginable for most of my life because up until that point I was given the message that my black hair was not "normal" from the white stylists I had experienced prior. 

When I relocated back to Minnesota, one of the first things on my to-do list was to find an Asian or Asian American hair stylist that I could work with again. The search was not easy, even in the Twin Cities area. I searched online, looked at salon bios, trying to find the elusive expert. And after several months, I finally found this go-to person and expert. And ironically it turns out she is also an adoptee. 

I think it is important for transracial/transcultural adoptees and adoptive families to have culturally competent resources in their community to meet their needs whether it be post-adoption services, therapy, or hair and beauty.  I encourage transracial/transcultural adoptees/adoptive families in the Twin Cities area who are looking or have been looking for a culturally competent hair expert to check out:

LC Hair Artistry in Edina, MN.