Women are often left with the responsibility of fixing their daughters’ hair, but these devoted fathers are changing the game.
Annis Waugh thought she’d only get a handful of sign-ups when she decided to host a hair-braiding class for dads. To her surprise, the slots were filled quickly as dozens of men signed up to the list.
Braid Maidens is Annis’s business from St. Albans in England. She has been teaching hair-braiding classes almost a year and noticed a trend.
Although she never advertised her lessons for women, men were still signing up for her classes.
Annis offered tutorials on hair-braiding to parents as part a fundraiser for a local elementary. She did not want to exclude the men, so she decided to hold one class specifically for dads, calling it the “Beards and Braids” event.
Her amazement was matched by the fact that the class for mothers sold out faster than the one she took.
Annis decided to host a dads-only session to create an environment where “everyone is in the same boat, and they’re all learning at the same basic level.”
Annis didn’t want men who had never fixed their daughter’s hair to be discouraged from joining, and she figured that it might be less intimidating for them to participate if the course was designed specifically for them.
Many men don’t sport long hair themselves, and it’s not common for boys and male teens to practice braiding hair, so it’s quite understandable if they haven’t learned the skill.
“I was really nervous before the class,” Annis admitted. She wondered whether the men actually wanted to take the class or if they were merely “under duress because their partners put them up to it.”
Annis believed the event would be awkward but was proved wrong.
“I needn’t have worried because straight away they were into it,” she said.
Eight dads participated in the two-hour session on February 23, which was attended by eight men who were eager learn the craft that had been traditionally the domain of women.
“They were concentrating so hard,” Annis recalled. “They were really into it and really wanted to do well at it.”
The class began with a lesson about brushing, ponytails and how to manage different hair textures and types. Annis covered all aspects of braiding, including how and when to do fishtail braids. Annis ended the session by showing them how to do a princess-style updo.
The men, who were “super engaged and really enthusiastic learners,” practiced the different techniques on plastic heads.
The event was filled laughter, but men were unable to keep their eyes open when it was time for braids.
“The concentration levels were through the roof,” Annis said.
In fact, some of them didn’t stop until their braids were perfect.
“One guy was brushing out a really good braid and said there wasn’t enough tension at the top,” Annis said. “They took it seriously, and they were there to learn a new skill to use on their kids.”
The braiding class for dads challenged Annis’ own biases and showcased that anyone can learn how to style hair with proper guidance.
“It doesn’t matter if you’re a 10-year-old girl, a 35-year-old woman or a 45-year-old man. There is no reason why it should be weird for a dad to do his child’s hair. Why should that be strange?” she said.
John Hardern was one of the dads in the class and now has to get his four daughters, who are long-haired, ready for school every morning since his wife went back to work.
When time allows, he braids their hair every morning. He has done side braids as well as fishtails and french braids so far.
“It shouldn’t just be one gender doing stuff like this,” John said. “The more we do and share the load, the better is it for my daughters.”
Annis’ workshop was such a massive hit that she now has a waiting list of 45 dads.
“Every day, I get messages saying ‘Please teach me.’ I think it’s going to become a very regular fixture,” she said.
Annis has four sessions scheduled in June and July for dads who are interested in learning hair-braiding. You can follow Braid Maidens via Instagram and Facebook.
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