Women of color are forced to damage their hair everyday just to fit into what mainstream society tells them is acceptable.
Today I would like to speak about something that many of us “naturals” have thought about at least once every since our natural hair
journey has begun, and that wearing our natural hair in the workplace.
Time and time again I hear about stories where someone of color, who has naturally curly hair, wears their hair in its natural state to work and is approached by someone saying that their look is “unprofessional”.
The main question that I have is why is it “unprofessional” for me to wear my big naturally curly hair to work but not “unprofessional” for someone who is not of color to wear their hair in its natural state?
Another question I have is why is it that some of us believe we have to straighten our hair just to look professional or presentable?
Although I am an African American woman who wears her hair in its natural state, I have not only heard of this being an issue within the African American community but also among other races that have similar hair types or really curly hair types.
Why is straight hair the only thing that is accepted by everyone and why is something as simple as hair something that determines whether or not someone is professional.
Women of color everywhere are having this problem on whether or not they should wear their hair naturally while they are at work.
Below is a clip of a woman telling her intern that she should straighten her hair in order to please their bosses. Actress Tamera Mowry-Housely then shares her experience when someone could not look past her natural hair.
In order for someone of color, who has naturally curly hair, to get their hair straight they have to do one of two things (or both). Either chemically damage their hair or cause heat damage to their hair. With chemically damaged hair the person usually uses some type of a straightening perm (a chemical used to straighten hair). With heat damaged hair the person had to have straightened their hair with either a pressing comb (a comb that is designed to sit on fire or a hot plate, to heat up and straighten your hair) or a flat iron (a device designed to heat up to degrees well over 100, in order to straighten your hair).
What some people who are ignorant to the process doesn’t know is that the process of perming or straightening your hair are extremely damaging to your hair and in most cases causes hair loss and in some cases health problems.
Chris Rock did an amazing job of pointing out some of the things that African American women do to get their hair to look the way that mainstream society tells them their hair is supposed to look in the 2009 movie, “Good Hair“.
Below are a few examples of the damage a perm can do to your hair.
Below are a few examples of the damage that putting heat in your hair daily can do.
Because of the damage that it causes and the harmful effects to one’ s health a lot of people have been deciding to go natural.
Evonna Garland is a hairstylist who recently realized that there are many people who are deciding to go natural because of the health of their hair.
This is part of the reason why people are choosing to go natural now. The health of our hair is very important to some people and we want to do everything in our power to make sure its as healthy as it can be.
So when we choose to do our hair in natural styles it is not to be defiant it is so that we can wear our hair the way it grows out of our head.
Not everyone feels this way about natural hair though. Some people do believe that wearing your natural hair is unprofessional and untidy.
Donyel Robinson is one of these people. She feels that wearing your hair in its natural state is unprofessional and makes you look unkept. She also refuses to go natural herself and says that she will never wear her hair in its natural state.
Although some may feel that wearing your hair in natural state is not professional enough for the work place, there are many successful people who wear their hair in its natural state everyday to work and wouldn’t have it any other way.
Velicia Crayton is one of those people. She works in the medical field as a nurse and began her natural hair journey 7 years ago. She is a prime example of how someone can wear their hair in its natural state and still look professional. Every day she shows how someone can be natural and still be successful and excellent at their job.
She speaks about how wearing her natural hair makes her feel and how it helps her interact with her patients.
Dr. Sarah Swider is a researcher at Wayne State University who studies different hair salons, braiding shops and barber shops in certain neighborhoods and the changes they experience. She explains why people are so afraid of black women who decide to go natural. She says people are threatened by this because of the origins of natural hair and people are afraid of women who decide that they are no longer going to conform to societies ideas of how they should wear their hair.
The main thing that I would like for everyone to take from this is that if you can accept one race wearing their hair in its naturally flat state then why cant you accept someone who naturally has big curly hair. Both types naturally grow out of your head and both types are completely healthy for that individual. As long as the person is doing their job right and not harming anyone with the way they wear their hair it really should not matter.
I am a proud natural and I absolutely love wearing my hair in its natural state. It’s easier to maintain and its so liberating to wear your hair the way it grows out of you head. It feels great not to worry about straightening it every day (which doesn’t last throughout the day anyway) or having to keep up with perming treatments. I am a lifelong natural and no matter where I work I will always wear my hair in its natural state. As long as you know how to maintain your natural hair and keep it looking beautiful then it should not be an issue in the work place.
Plus look at how beautiful natural women are. Why would you not accept these women into your place of work.
For those people who want to go natural but have no idea where to start below are some natural hair salons, in the Metro Detroit area, to get you started.