by Julie Tisdale
City & County Policy Analyst
I really thought that I must have seen it all when I started reading about licensing requirements for African hair braiders. Regular readers of this blog or of John Locke Foundation publications will be familiar with the issue – hundreds of hours and thousands of dollars to obtain a license to, you guessed it, braid hair.
But today, it got worse. Today I learned that, in Tennessee, it is illegal to be employed as a hair shampooer in a salon without a license. Yep, you read that right. Shampooing. You know, that thing you did this morning in the shower. And that you did for you kid in the bathtub. Careful there, Mom. Might need a license for that. Are you sure you’re qualified to wash that child’s hair?
And we’re not talking about some simple paperwork. We’re talking about 300 hours on the theory and practice of shampooing at a cost of more than $3000. Seriously? I checked to see if it was April Fools Day. It’s not.
And what, you may ask, is the penalty if one defies this law that is so obviously ludicrous? Try a $1,000 fine and six months in jail. This is not funny.
And (I know you don’t think this is possible) it gets worse. Because this is so ridiculous, no schools in Tennessee actually offer this course. So, instead, if you want to shampoo hair, you have to get a full cosmetologist license. That’s 1500 hours of training. To wash hair!
You can read all about the crazy here. But I think it’s best summed up by Tammy Pritchard, who’s suing the state of Tennessee over this licensing requirement.
Licensing laws mean “you’re going to fail to get young women out of poverty,” Tammy said. “This system is not for us, it’s against us.”