I LOVE rocking my natural hair…I love the texture, my curls kinks and the overall healthiness of my hair since going natural. However, this week it was suggested I straighten my natural hair to be “less offensive” in the workplace! I've been advised more than once by friends and family that my natural hair may be “too much” for my Caucasian counterparts.
There aren't really any words that could sum up how I feel about my hair being shunned…one person even told me my “power to the people” hairstyle had to go. While it’s one thing to be misunderstood it’s another to have implications that my hair is stopping me from success (and we all know success is open to interpretation) and that is beyond hurtful. Keep in mind that I have a degree in English, taught High School English, worked in the Higher Ed sector of Education and written policy for organizations. Not tooting my own horn but I’m accomplished when it comes to having “smarts” I’m no dummy. For my hair to be causing such a big fuss is beyond me. As of late when I go on interviews I've been putting my hair into a bun suppressing my curls to make others happy. Ultimately I’m feeling like I’m being asked to stop being me so I can experience greater “success.”
How Did This Happen?
I've landed in a new city where there just aren't many girls that look like me. Natural hair isn't prevalent here like it was in DC. I can count on one hand how many people I've seen rocking natural hair and it took everything in me not to run up and hug them!
Apparently rocking my Afro indicates that I’m militant and “pro black.” Laughable right?! Militant? No, Pro-black? Well seeing how I am black why the heck wouldn't I have some pride? I’m “pro” for many things but it always amazes me that something as simple as my hair style choice indicates I’m ready to start some radical movement. And why can’t I love the hair that was given to me naturally, why is that not alright?!
What upsets me the most is that the side eyes I get the most often are from women that used to rock an Afro in the 70’s with pride. Don’t get me wrong, I had a relaxer for almost 20 years of my life (1st relaxer at 10) and I fully intend to straighten my hair one day AND I’ll be getting a weave installed this fall so this isn't me shunning anyone for their hair choices.
I just hate feeling shunned because of my hair…I put so much effort into my personal appearance and I worked hard to make it through college and develop my professional skills. It would be one thing if I had bad hygiene or didn't comb my hair but none of those scenarios are true.
I’m starting to feel like my fro can only make an appearance on the weekends, outside of the office. Feeling like an outsider for the first time in a very long time and it’s quite a painful feeling. I can assure you that I won’t be chemically straightening my hair BUT I may consider pressing it or getting a weave to look more “normal.”
How have you embraced and transitioned your natural hair into the workplace? Have you ever felt shunned for having natural hair?
Keep it curly girls,