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Identity & Community

Crash Course Gives Dads The Skills To Do Their Daughters' Hair

Many of the men who met in an empty storefront between Guntown Vape and Nice Ink Tattoo onCanonsburg's West Pike Street last week had visible tattoos and closely shaved heads.

They were armed with a rainbow of rubber bands and brightly-hued hair brushes, while Joe Cafeo taught them how to fashion the perfect ponytail and braid.

“I want to kind of break through the stereotypes,” Cafeo, who works as a drug and alcohol counselor, said. “I get it all the time, people say, ‘Oh, it’s so good of you to do all this stuff for your daughter.’ And it just makes me think, shouldn’t everybody? I think a lot of times, just a little direction, a little motivation. Dads working together and who knows what we can do.”

Their mission: learn the ins and outs of how to care for their daughters’ hair.

“Me and her spend a lot of time together,” Logan Schwab said while carefully braiding his 6-year-old daughter Bella’s hair. “I had her when I was 17, so you know, being a young dad we played – what did we do? We did makeup, we did fingernails … so we try to spend a good bit of time together.” 

Cafeo, a single father to his 4-year-old Gianna, felt compelled to help other dads after coming across a man who was doing a similar workshop for fathers in Florida.

“And I say, ‘If he can do it, I can do this too,’” Cafeo said. “And that’s whenever I went into teaching myself YouTube … and through this, I’ve learned a new experience of bonding that I never had. Because, you know, raising a little girl, let’s face it, you know, with sons we can throw the football, we can throw the baseball. But, little girls, they want to do (different) things, they want to feel pretty. And I used to always – I let her paint my nails and play dress up and a lot of dads don’t do that. And she loves it.”

Schwab and several other dads said it was great to learn some new tricks, but more importantly it gave them a way to bond with their little girls – even if it wasn’t their idea in the first place.

“Her mother usually does her hair,” said Adrian Reiff in between strokes of a hairbrush through 10-year-old Trista’s hair. “But her mother set us up to do this because she thought it would be good for the bonding part of it. So that’s why we’re here.”

Last week’s gathering was the second workshop Cafeo held. He said he plans on having another one in a month and making it a regular event.

“As long as people are willing to come, I’m willing to do it,” Cafeo said.