Natural Hair in the Workplace

No, you can’t touch my hair. Being Natural is hard enough. With the copious amounts of products in the market and the struggle to perfect a twist out, bantu knot and perm rod set like your favorite YouTuber, life is not easy for naturals! The task of maintaining the white standard of professionalism doesn’t make being natural any easier. Perhaps it’s time for others to learn to accept our hair. African American professional women have long hid under weaves and perms in order to get in formation with their white counterparts, but those days are now over.

Recently African American hair has been back in the news. Did you hear about the federal court ruling that stated that it was cool to discriminate against locs? How about the multiple schools that won’t allow children to come to school with braids and afros? We live in a world where it is ok with us using harmful chemicals to degrade our hair textures (no shade to my #teamperm sistahs) and tries to legally ban us from allowing our hair to take its true form. I won’t even begin to think (or even talk) about the kind so psychological effect this can have on a people—we ain’t got time for that today.

Natural Hair in the Workplace

I have been natural for 4 years and recently even did a second big chop. It took me a while to become comfortable enough to even show my real hair at work. I would wear wigs to work every single day! There is a real struggle associated with wearing wigs every day, it can be uncomfortable and leave imprints along your hairline. I used to keep a silk scarf in my car so that after work I could quickly escape from my imprisonment and allow my hair to breathe during the commute home. I got to a point where I suddenly became completely comfortable in my skin and rocked a twist out to work. Some people barely recognized me. After a while it felt normal… until I changed companies. My new place of work was far more conservative than my previous one, but I didn’t allow that to influence my hair choice. I changed my hair as I needed to, and surely that came along with stares and awkward questions.

Natural Hair in the Workplace

I was once asked by a coworker why I change my hair so often, I answered by saying that I simply like it. What I really wanted to say was this:

“I’m sorry Becky with the good hair, not everyone can have hair like you. Some of us are born with kinky, coily, curly hair and have to take additional steps to take care of it. Often times my hair changes aren’t prompted by fashion motivations, but are required to maintain the health of my hair. I may deep condition my hair one day and wear a protective wig in order to let me hair fully dry because I know that frequent use of hot tools are not good. I may use my Q-redew to steam out an old twist out in order to wear a puff. I may decide to get braids with extensions in order to allow my hair to grow in a way that it is not exposed on a daily. So I’m sorry that I can’t go to sleep and wake up with my hair looking exactly how I left it the night before. Anyone who is in the 4 type hair group knows the debilitating effect of shrinkage. So Becky, you will have to deal with it. Sorry not sorry.”

Natural Hair in the Workplace