While scrolling through FB today, I came across a post that caught my interest. A mother posted a picture of her daughter who has long wavy hair with the statement “My daughter wore her hair like this for an interview. The interviewer said her hair was unprofessional.” Complete utter confusion set in; her hair was groomed, shiny and clean. It was thick and “big” but very complimenting to her facial features. She was interviewing for a job at AT&T. What made it unprofessional and what does “professional hair” look like?
Several people chimed in to state their opinions, and I was blown away (yet not surprised) by the number of people who stated that natural hair was a distraction. Others went on to say that a hiring manager looks for well-groomed, straight, professionally styled hair (buns, weaves, straight/relaxed). But the one that got my attention was how many times it was stated that she should have worn a wig or straightened her hair for the interview….”play the game.” When trying to get a job, “especially with white people”, you have to look the part. Our natural hair is still not accepted in corporate America; it gives off the vibe of “militancy”.
I recently had this same conversation with a friend who moved to Texas and began working for a Corporate Giant. She wore a wig to her interviews and for the first month out of fear that they would frown upon her locs. She was so uncomfortable and stated that she felt like she was covering up who she was to be accepted. It means so much to her for women to embrace their true identities. Yet, here she was doing what she preached against. In the second month, she dropped the wig, and added braids (extensions) to her locs.
That further drove her crazy. 3 weeks later, she removed the wig and the braids and courageously walked into her office with her locs. Everyone, including her boss, loved her locs and asked her why she had never worn her hair out! To her shock and relief, they didn’t have a problem with her natural hair. Of course, there are other stories like this, but many more who have been discriminated against because of their choice to wear their natural hair.
Why do we see the words “Equal Employment Opportunity” and never notice the fine print which states that “we will not hire you”, or “we will find a way to fire you” if your hair is nappy? When I worked in corporate America, I was rather rebellious when it came to my natural hair. I shaved my hair off, wore braids, twists, textured weaves, locs, afros, etc. you name it I wore it.
Comments were made on end about my hair, but they could never say it was not well groomed and professionally styled always. I felt they hired me, ME, to do a job, and I did one hell of a job for them while being ME ALWAYS. My immediate supervisor was a Black man but of course the powers to be were not. Our hair amazes them and yet scares them.
We have come a long way with our Natural Hair Journey. This is not new movement, many woman have never wanted the chemicals. Today, more women now choose to embrace their God-given textures; the beauty of our hair.
You can watch women in the lime light (in movies, on stage, commercials, television, news, sports and talk shows, etc.), and notice the pride shown by influential people who have decided to break the cycle of self-denial. It was not that long ago, that a nappy head would only be portrayed on the screen when worn by a slave. Today that has all changed. A growing number of female celebrities no longer welcome the damage caused by straightening their hair and adding chemicals to land a part. They opt to wear their own hair or add weaves/wigs over their natural hair to meet the requirements of a part, at the same time protecting the health of their own hair.
There are celebrities who have been quoted to say that by conforming to Hollywood’s expectations (European Beauty), they were denying themselves and thus setting a bad example for Black women everywhere. They are aware that because of their influence, people will follow their lead. Thank you to those ladies who have said “no more.” In recent news, Viola Davis rocking her natural on “How to Get Away with Murder” and Solange Knowles who received so much flack for opting to wear her natural fro during her wedding! Yes, Ladies!!!!!!
Will the day ever come when these hair barriers are broken and we are treated as equals in the workforce, our own community, the military….THE WORLD? Why should our hair determine the type of worker we are or how well we can do a job? European beauty belong to the Europeans. Black beauty, in all its shades and hair textures, belongs to Us! Denying us jobs because of our hair should be a discriminatory practice. Do you agree or disagree? Please state your views, opinions and experiences with regard to wearing your natural hair and your job.