Woman Sues Over Braiding

Last August, Melony Armstrong filed a lawsuit against the Mississippi Board of Cosmetology for its requirement that anyone who wants to go into business to strictly braid hair must first get a wigology license.

"I went and got a license in wigology and it taught me nothing about braiding and it was a lot of wasted time, but it did allow me to braid legally," Armstrong said.

Not only does Armstrong refer to the license as a waste of time for her craft, but also a waste of money. Out of the 42 cosmetology schools in Mississippi, only one offers a license in wigology, and that's in Columbus.

Currently there's a bill before the Senate Public Health and Welfare Committee that would exempt people who just braid hair from having to meet current state cosmetology requirements. This is something which supporters of the measure call only fair.

"This is a travesty for Melony, who wants to expand her shop and be an entrepreneur and earn an honest living with some of her braiders. We think that this is preventing her from earning an honest living with unnecessary bureaucratic red tape," said Valerie Bayham of the Institute for Justice in Washington, D.C.

Bayham and other supporters say while Melony was able to finally obtain her license, many others who want to work with her or own their own braiding business, don't necessarily have the time or money to do it.

"I'm out of time and money spent for learning a craft that I won't ever use. I don't think that's fair. I don't think that's fair at all," said Nina Lyons.

"First of all, it's a cultural art form that has been practiced for centuries and again cosmetology schools do not teach this because they don't know it and again they should not teach something that they don't know," Armstrong said.

Armstrong says in order to certify to teach a course in braiding, she would first need to take another 3,000 plus hours of coursework in cosmetology.

Meanwhile, officials from the Institute for Justice say with lawmakers talking favorably toward their request, the measure should be ready for a vote before the full Legislature within the next month.


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