There’s a great irony in the way the world looks at men and women who choose to go to beauty school. As students, these hair warriors are often looked at as subpar, part of the non collegiate crowd who settles for something less than a bachelors degree in animal husbandry or puppetry arts.

And then the transformation occurs…You’re sitting in their chair, in their charge, trusting them with you hair, and BAM! Suddenly these same slackers are insightful. Wise wizards who make you look beautiful. FEEL beautiful. You bare your soul to them, tell them things you’d never tell ANYBODY, and unlike your BFF or your sister, they guard your secrets and your color formula with their lives.

So just when and where does this transformation from slacker to savior take place? In reality, it doesn’t. That person standing over your cape draped self, looking thoughtfully at your hair, picking it up and letting it fall to see how it lays naturally, was CALLED to do this.

One of the things I love most about THE WISDOM OF HAIR (Berkley 3/5/13) is the beauty school the protagonist, Zora Adams, attends and Mrs. Cathcart the dean of the school. Mrs. C recognizes the value of what hair stylists do for (wo)mankind. She gives her students a prom-like dance, even names a valedictorian, and sends them into the world with the fanfare they deserve. Down to her soul, Mrs. C. believes in the calling.

Here’s a little taste of her inaugural address to the Davenport School of Beauty’s Fall Class of 1983.

“Class, if you can give a woman a good hairdo, she will crawl to you on her deathbed for you to fix her hair. A woman whose hair has been properly colored is a customer for life. Let me assure all of you, there is great honor in making a woman in your charge look and feel beautiful. This is indeed one of life’s highest callings.”

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About Kim Boykin

Kim Boykin learned about women and their hair in her mother’s beauty shop in a tiny South Carolina town. She loves to write stories about strong Southern women, because that’s what she knows. Kim is an accomplished public speaker and serves on the board of the South Carolina Writer’s Workshop. She lives in Charlotte, North Carolina, with her husband, three dogs, and 126 rose bushes.
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  1. Don’t know what I’d do without my Theresa! My curls are naturally mine, but when people ask if the color is I just say, ‘It used to be.’ Looking forward to March, Kim!

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