Opinions split on ‘natural’ hairstylist license bill in state assembly

MEMPHIS, Tenn. — Hairstylists would no longer need a license to do natural hair in Tennessee if a new bill passes the General Assembly, but many do not support the change.

The term “natural” usually applies to black women who do not chemically alter the texture of their hair.

Now a new proposed law would eliminate the license requirement to work with natural textures.

Rep. Antonio Parkinson does not support the bill — he says the change could cost people their jobs and their “edges.”

“When it comes to natural hair this is the first time in a long time that black people have had an opportunity to start creating some ownership of something that actually belongs to them.”

Parkinson sponsored a bill that led to the first natural haircare school opening in Bartlett.

If this bill passes he says natural hair stylists would not be required to follow sanitation or safety rules governed by the state cosmetology board.

Diondria Watkins says the change could have dire consequences.

“I feel like a client would feel better knowing that a person has a bit of knowledge about what they’re about to perform on you, especially if you have something going wrong with your hair. You’d want to go to someone who could possibly help you with and if they haven’t had an education or any licensing there’s no guarantee that they’d be able to assist you in the way that you need assistance.”

The bill would also combine barbering and cosmetology into one licensed trade.

If it passes the law would go into effect next year.

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