The Hair Issue

{Image: Then with natural hair}

I came across this very intriguing article in Essence Magazine asking the question, “Do You Allow Your Job to Dictate Your Hairstyle?” I took the poll and responded, yes.  Since there was no option for heck yes, I had to make do with just ticking off the yes box.
The truth is I have absolutely let my professional ambitions dictate how I maintain my hair.  I’m sure this is not a issue only concerning Black women  – we all dress a certain way, want to look a certain way to fit into our professional roles – but I think the “hair” issue effects us more than women of other ethnicities.  If I could have it my way, I would wear my hair natural with different variations of braids, cornrows and twists – maybe even break out an afro once in a while.  For a very long time I did exactly that. I was that cute Black girl with cornrows and a blazer. My sisters supported me. But they would nevvvvver do that themselves. Especially having latched on to a life of weave before even graduating high school. 

But maybe they were the ones that were ahead of me. Last summer, I got my first relaxer in over 15 years.  Do I regret it? No. But I wish I didn’t have to.

{Image: Now with relaxed hair}

But I do have to. I don’t want to be the girl with the “funky hair” at the office. I don’t want to be seen as a young, just-outta-school junior not worthy of a certain level of respect. I don’t want to not be invited to present or brief at certain “high level” meetings. I don’t want
my White colleagues curiously wanting to touch it like I’m some sort of
amusement show attraction. I don’t want to feel like I’m holding myself back. Women have a hard enough time as it is, but a Black women with “funky hair”?! Unless your professional goal is to be Vice President for Diversity, Equity and Multicultural Affairs or something of the sort, I feel like there’s only so far you can go. In other words, I don’t really want my hair to define me at work. I want to be respected for the quality of my projects, my work ethic and my professionalism.

Us women are so complex.  We want to wear power suits like the men. But we also want to wear strappy sandals and stilettos too.

Images via Like, Whatever

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