August 8 is National Braiders Day, an opportunity for reflection, advocacy, education, and celebration of the cultural significance of hair braiding and the professionals who do it. Hair braiding is more than a form of style, it is a culturally significant act with deep roots in many communities. Unfortunately, braiding and braiders are often not treated with the same respect others in the cosmetology fields receive and are burdened by overbearing regulation. EZBRAID is sponsoring National Braiders Day as a chance to recognize the thousands of braiders around the country for their talents, hard work, and contribution to our cultural heritage.
HISTORY OF NATIONAL BRAIDERS DAY
Braiding has been a form of art for tens of thousands of years. There are examples of early humans enshrined in 25,000 year old artwork depicting figures with braiding. However, many credit the Himba people of modern Namibia, with imbuing braiding with cultural significance since at least 3500 BC. Many different cultures have contributed over the millennia to the growth and importance of hair braiding as well as different styles of braid. Imbued with societal significance, braids in the ancient world (and in some cases today) can indicate certain social status, ethnicity, religion, and more.
National Braider’s Day was founded in 2020 in order to give braiders a platform to raise significant issues plaguing their community. Often seen as lesser professionals by other cosmetological fields, braiders are still subject to overbearing occupational licensing requirements that can be debilitating and often cost braiders work. Ezbraid started the day because they recognized that braiding and the (predominantly) women who do it deserve the same respect and opportunities as others, putting a well-deserved spotlight on the profession and its impact on our culture, past and present.
In 1997, Texas braider Isis Brantley was arrested as part of an undercover operation because she was braiding hair without a cosmetology license, even though braiders are not barbers. Brantley fought the law and after 10 years of effort, saw the Texas state legislature pass reforms that exempted hair braiders from onerous licensing requirements that had no bearing on their work.
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