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How a hair specialist helps African Americans embrace Afro natural hair

Ari Shen wants Afro natural hair to be embraced

DETROIT – You don’t have to look too hard at black hair specialist, Ari Shen to tell he’s had over a 50-year love affair with Afro natural hair.

Originally born as Allen Biggers in LaPort Indiana, Ari Shen been traveling across the country working to help African Americans embrace the characteristics of their own hair.

“Hair is very symbolic in almost every aspect of life," Shen said. “Hair is very significant, culturally, spiritually, psychologically. Just the way you care for your hair, the way you manage your hair and the way you style it,”

“You had totally straight hair. Now you have this hair that has a curl pattern in it. You have a curl, a wave and a kink all in that strain of hair."

Especially since natural hair styles have been looked down upon since what feels like the beginning of time.

“This has been a problem in our community. Our hair has been criminalized when wearing it natural,” he said. “All these things were programmed in our minds to be negative.”

But the 78-year-old award winning stylist said there’s a royal history behind these hairdos and he’s been working to spread his message since the 60s.

“When all of this information started coming out, I was one of those people that were the first one to embrace it, research it and study it. It was all about me getting my pride in myself and understanding that I had a rich culture that was stolen and taken from us,” Shen said.

Once Shen made it here to Detroit, he knew he couldn’t leave.

“When I came to Detroit, it was incredible. There were more people here on the streets wearing their hair in afros than anyone else. Even than New York, Chicago and LA,” he said. “I just wanted to share to make sure that our hair was being dealt with professionally and scientifically."

And you have access to Brother Shen’s guidance right here in Midtown at Healing Arts Studio.