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Black Ladies Communicate Up About Their Struggles Sporting Pure Hair Within the Office | Essence

Curlycreator
Curlycreator
11 Min Read

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Twists outs and co-washing have firmly cemented themselves as a part of Black hair lexicon. The phrases initially emerged as a part of the second-wave pure hair motion, which the web site Curl Centric notes started within the early 2000s. Hair bloggers like Whitney White (a.ok.a. Naptural85) and web sites like curlynikki.com shortly grew to become the go-to for these embarking on (and struggling with) their pure hair journey.

In recent times, many Black ladies have totally embraced the feel of their God-given kinks and curls — and the multi-step regimens that come together with caring for pure hair. Although, for many people, the topic stays a degree of competition.

How is it attainable that in a world flooded with high quality YouTube tutorials on haircare and numerous nice merchandise on the cabinets, that an alarming variety of Black ladies nonetheless don’t really feel snug sufficient to put on their pure hair within the office for concern of judgment, or worse an expert reprimand?

Struck by an Instagram publish shared on The Shade Room, about President Obama’s inspirational musical playlist,  Jessica Clemons, a medical physician and founding father of the academic weblog askdrjess.com, couldn’t assist however ponder the methods Black individuals nonetheless battle with really proudly owning their blackness. “I went deeper into this introspective space thinking of other ways Black people deny their blackness because of their professions. My own experiences and thoughts were swirling in my mind,” Clemons tells ESSENCE. 

The physician then posted a selfie to her Insta-stories with the caption, “My face when you talking ’bout you can’t wear your hair natural cause it’s unprofessional.” She then requested her followers to share tales about carrying their hair pure within the office —the great, the unhealthy, and how they dealt with it. “My DMs quickly blew up,” she says. Black ladies throughout age teams and professions despatched her touching, and deeply private, tales about their pure hair struggles within the office. 

“I was most surprised by the industries women worked in that were experiencing criticism for natural hair such as retail and fashion. Many of these responses were outright discrimination,” Clemons shares. One lady even shared that her job explicitly said, with pictures, the hairstyles thought of acceptable—Eurocentric ones—and people who weren’t—TWAs, afros, braids and so forth.

Whereas it’s straightforward to dismiss these tales as excessive one-offs, a better inspection of American’s current historical past makes it almost inconceivable to take action. It was solely final 12 months that the USA Military revised its grooming and look laws, together with its ban on dreadlocks. Till final 12 months’s replace to Military Regulation 670-1 the hundreds of Black ladies who served within the Military weren’t allowed to put on their pure hair on the job. So regardless of dedicating their lives to serving others, Black ladies are compelled to stick to white magnificence requirements.

As Clemons reminds us, “Black people are still not fully accepted in the workplace from a Black normative perspective — that’s why we code switch. This non-acceptance is systemic and historical. Discrimination continues to exist.” Regardless of being tagged greater than 4 million instances on Instagram, what good is it to be #teamnatural when you can’t deliver that pure self to the place you spend most of your time? 

Probably the most efficient methods to dismantle techniques of oppression is by calling them out, loudly and relentlessly.  For Black ladies and our hair, which means sharing these tales of discrimination as a substitute of being shamed into silence. Having an actual and trustworthy dialogue, amongst one another and past, is crucial. It’s our duty as Black ladies not solely to extend our consciousness of such discrimination however to additionally hearken to our fellow sisters who could also be struggling. As Clemons says, that is the one means that boundaries are pushed for each us and the subsequent technology. 

At ESSENCE we attempt to create and encourage the powerful conversations that create actual change. Impressed by Clemon’s empathetic and thought-provoking question, we requested a number of of our readers to share their experiences carrying pure hair within the office. Their solutions are deeply private and extremely touching. Maintain scrolling to learn their very actual responses. 

“When I was working in financial services, I remember feeling like it was only work-appropriate to wear my naturally curly hair pulled back in a bun. It wasn’t something that was [expressly] stated, but there weren’t any other people in power positions that looked like me and wore their hair out, curly, kinky and free. I remember also feeling validated by all of the compliments I would receive when I would come into work with my hair blow dried straight.” — Sara, wellness/meals entrepreneur. 

“I feel very comfortable wearing my natural hair in any environment. I’ve been lucky enough to work among people whose job it is to celebrate and advocate for diversity. I haven’t always worn my hair in its natural state, and I give a lot of credit to my HBCU and an endless amount of natural hair YouTube tutorials for allowing to embrace the beauty of my hair, and teaching me how to style it.” — Valerie, non-profit civil rights activist. 

“For the first time in a while, I finally feel comfortable wearing my natural hair in the workplace. However, there are still some embedded conditions preventing me from truly wearing my natural hair in the office that I have issues breaking away from, like sporting my curl. Upon graduating I entered the world of corporate public relations, marketing and social media and did not see women who looked like me. Not having representation in the workplace led me to want to alter my natural appearance to conform and fit in. I once wore my hair curly to the office and it was a topic of discussion for the whole day. I felt like I had to constantly explain my hair and its texture.” — Dominique, social media supervisor. 

“Working in the television and film industry, I’m free to express myself. With such a creative workspace, I’ve never once felt uncomfortable about wearing my natural hair. If anything, it’s inspired me to express myself and own it — naps and all. There are superpowers in these curls.” — Crystal, costume designer/tv and movie

“When I went natural in grad school I decided from then on out that I would interview for jobs [wearing] my natural hair, not pressed, not pulled back. I wanted my employer to know what they were getting. Fast forward 14 years later and I’m at an amazing institution that promotes and preserves the global Black experience. At least once a week I’m in front of an audience introducing our public programs and they get to see one expression of my culture through hair.” — Novella, public applications supervisor. 

“I’m really lucky that I’ve always felt comfortable wearing my natural hair at work. If anything, I’ve only ever gotten compliments upon compliments and questions on my product routine—which I’m always more than happy to share.” — Cheyenne, model marketer. 

“I feel comfortable wearing my natural hair in the workplace with restrictions. But I don’t like the unwanted conversations my curly hair invites—either from well-intended non-Black people who gawk and ask too many questions about maintenance, or even from brainwashed Black men who make ignorant comments about my hair or assumptions about what it means about my personality. I’m sometimes self-conscious about the stigma people have about kinks and curls being “unprofessional.” For these causes I often interview with straightened hair and after I do put on my hair curly I have a tendency to rock a conservative type reminiscent of a topknot.” — Esta, receptionist. 

“I definitely feel comfortable wearing my natural hair in the workplace but I entered the workforce with natural hair when I was 22.  I went to the University of Southern California for undergrad, which was probably like 6% Black at the time. I did a semester exchange program at Howard University my senior year in 2004 and decided to go natural. I remember my mom specifically asking me if I was going to keep my hair natural when I interviewed and I remember us almost deciding together… Yes.  I don’t know that I actually really understood the decision I was making but I’m happy I did because from that point on, it’s never really been a question.” — Crystal, advertising director. 

 We’d love to listen to from you! Share your expertise carrying pure hair within the office with us. 

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