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Curly Nikki

Natural Hair and First Impressions

By January 27th, 202143 Comments

Natural Hair and First Impressions
Kara writes:

Do you feel that people judge you by your hair before they get a chance to know you?

To take it one step farther, do you ever find yourself thinking that straightening your hair for that interview, for your first day of class, for that fancy banquet, or for the family reuninon is probably not such a bad idea?


  • Anonymous says:

    I had been wearing braids for years and got a bit of length. Pressed my hair for an interview in the winter. Hair broke. Texture changed and now more than a year later I am dealing with the effects… If you can be neat without it. Don't do it!!!!

  • Anonymous says:

    I am so glad I found this post. I have an interview on Friday, and since I am transitioning (it's been 7 months since my last relaxer) I really want to stay away from heat and wear my hair natural as much as possible. I battled with the thought of whether to straighten my hair or wear it natural. Thanks to you ladies I have decided to have the confidence to wear it natural and see what happens. Does anyone have any hair styling suggestions?

  • Anonymous says:

    In Upstate New York:

    I'll be at 6 months (natural) next week! I'm happy! My hair is happy, too!

    I can't think of a better birthday present for myself, next week, than to just be myself.

    Went to McDonald's, yesterday. One person had a "teenie weenie fro." The person ahead of me had dreadlocks.

    I see more people wearing natural hairstyles.

  • Anonymous says:

    In Upstate New York

    I wear my hair natural. Today is 5 months since last relaxer (10/29/2009). Cutting off the relaxed hair was a big step. Now, I have my naturally curly hair, again.

  • Cassandre says:

    I wanted to straighten my hair for graduation pictures two weeks ago. I did and they came out atrocious. Simply horrible. So I'm retaking them tomorrow and plan to do a lovely twist(out)-n-curl on my roller set hair and I'm going to look fabulous doing it. The thing that it never occurred to me to do it with my natural hair. But I'm going for it.

  • Anonymous says:

    "Most African American women"

  • Anonymous says:

    This is "Anonymous" from 9:31 AM this morning, Thanks ladies for the great advice. I actually did confront him and explained that I thought his comment was racist. He really didn't understand why I thought that. I told him it's as if he's saying that a woman with hair like mine can only work as a cleaning lady. Once I put it that way, he apologized and said, "I guess I just shouldn't talk about you hair, huh?" I told him that's the best thing he's said all week!

    Most African American compliment my hair. A lot of them wish they could do it, but are scared to see what's hiding under their relaxers. It's a shame that we don't really know what our natural hair looks like since most of us have been relaxed sine we were little girls.

    I'm loving mine, though and I try to encourage other African American women.

  • Anonymous says:

    *I wear my hair natural*

  • Anonymous says:

    I wear my hair in a corporate environment and I'm sorry to say the dirtiest looks/nastiest comments i ever get come from other black people – women in particular. They look at me like i'm letting the side down or revealing the 'secret.'

    if you choose to wear you hair natural in a corporate environment (and why shouldn't you) trust me – your actions. confidence and demeanor you'll do more to carry you than your hair. My tip; if any one comments on your natural hair – look at them, smile and say (without sarcasm) ''gosh i've never knew my hair was that famous. do you checkout my styles all the time?''

    They'll feel foolish and never mention it again.

  • mood_indigo says:

    It's funny because I literally was thinking about this yesterday! I got my hair straightened for a trim and length check 2 days ago. When I came in to work the next day, my boss said "oh, you did your hair." Now, let me start by saying I have the best boss in the world. She is very supportive and has been during my journey to natural hair. She often comments on how she wishes she could go natural too but her hair isn't like mine (another conversation for another day) so I know she didn't mean it in a vindictive way, but it still kinda hurt my feelings. I do find it interesting that Caucasian people with curly hair don't get put into the same box as people of color who have curly hair.

  • JustTrena says:

    I agree 100% with Rana (March 11 @ 10:20)!! I was 3 months post BC when I was interviewed for the position I'm in now. I didn't know a whole bunch about my hair at that point but I did know I would fake it until I made it! I think if you appear confident and comfortable with YOURSELF, everyone else has no other choice but to accept that. It's really unfortunately that "our own" are most times our biggest critics. HOWEVER, regardless of all of that, before anyone else can appreciate our hair, WE have to get over worrying about what OTHERS think about it!

    I thank GOD I've come to love and appreciate the head of hair HE created just for me; no one else has it! 😉

  • Jazz says:

    I find that when I straighten my hair my co-workers rave about it all day, about how much they love it. So it makes me not want to straighten it as much. But I do straighten for "special occasions". Trips home, and a maybe once every 4 months….

  • Chéri says:

    If People Make Comments About Your Hair @ Work And You Don't Like It, Put Them In Their Place, Professionally Of Course.

    If I Can't Be Hired For Being Me, Then The Job Was Never Mine. I Have Interview With A Rollerset Once, Just Because I Didn't Feel Like Washing My Hair Again That Week.

    As You Can See I Follow My Own Rules, I Don't Even Remove My Nose Ring Because It's So Small, Nobody Even Notices It @ First. The Only Thing I Think Is Weird Is You Roll Up 2 An Interview Showing Off Your Tattoos, LOL

    Seriously Tho, I'm Really Sad You Guys Have Gone Through Those Things, Remember In Order For Things 2 Change, Change Has 2 Come…Those Ignorant People That Offended You Will One Day See The Light…It's Not You It's Them!! 😀

  • Anonymous says:

    About those people with objections to natural or curly hair, based on what I've observed it's not usually the "natural" or "curly" part that people object to or find unprofessional. It's the size of the curl or coil that people object to in certain settings. I rarely hear anyone commenting or complaining about natural/curly-haired white people or people of color with natural looser curls.

  • Queenofthe4s says:

    @ Anonymous 9:31

    No you are not being overly sensitive. Rude and offensive comments have no place in the office. I had to laugh at your response to him..b/c it is funny…but I think he would have gotten the point had you said it without laughing.

    Since the convo has been said and done, I wouldn't bring it up with him again until he makes it an issue with another offensive comment. Address him then and move on from it. If the problem continues, it should be escalated to HR.



  • Janique says:

    I don't think you are being overly sensitive about the cleaning lady comment. Really what's up with that comment. Sounds slightly racist to me, but that;'s a whole nother issue. He might not understand why you would be offended, but sometimes people need to be "taught" what they can and can't say around you.

  • BohoStreet says:

    I agree with the Handmade Project: I don't want to work anywhere that my work can't shine for itself because my co-workers and boss can't look beyond my hair. People are different, period. I have good work ethics and I produce! That's all that should matter. I wouldn't change my hair for an interview or any special occasion. If not for my own wedding, then why for anyone else's event!? No thank you.

  • Pamela says:

    I am a newbie – I was stretching my perm for about 2 months and then just decided to transition so I've been "going natural" now for about a total of 4 months. My first day at work with my twist out, I got the strangest stares from everyone. They were used to me wearing my hair slicked back in a bun. People have come to accept my big hair, though, but I do notice that one particular black co-worker treats me differently now that I've decided to go natural. She actually asked me what I was doing and when I explained it to her, she said "why do you want to do that?"

    Anyway, I do get lots of compliments from strangers and co-workers. Family I think is still undecided. But, I say all this to say that I would not straighten my hair again for any particular occassion. This is me. I like me. I've become more confident and enjoy the attention that my hair brings – don't care about the occassional negative stares or comments. Particularly for work or interview, employers want a neat, well-put together look from employees. (I know from experience, I am a recruiter at my job and conduct many interviews.) As long as your look is neat and professional – which can be done with natural hair, I don't see why anyone should have a problem with you wearing your hair natural in a corporate setting. As for other occassions, especially social functions – I make my hair as big and noticable as possible because that's the look that "I" love. I don't care what other people think.

  • Anonymous says:

    This is a good topic because I've recently had people commenting to me about my natural hair and it's starting to bother me. I did my big chop last June and I've been wearing styles from the TWA, to a wash-n-go, to twist outs. My hair is always clean and neat.

    Last week, I had my hair flat ironed so that I could get my ends trimmed. I decided to wear it to work for the week. I got a lot of comments about how my straight hair looks better, how it makes me looks softer, how it makes me look more professional, etc. Most of the people who say this are white people, but I did have one black guy say it as well.

    This week, I went back to my curly hair and people just want to keep making comments about how much better I look with straight hair, yada, yada, yada. Yesterday, one of my coworkers just went on and on about how I should wear my hair straight, and he went on to tell me that I look like a cleaning lady with my hair curly. I was really appalled at this comment, but I just laughed it up and said, "The cleaning lady has straight hair, and she's white…".

    I try to say that it doesn't bother me, and as long as I like my hair who cares what others think, but it does bother me. I am going to pull my coworker aside anD tell him that his comment was offensive and ask him to keep my hair out of his mouth! Am I being overly sensitive?

  • nae says:

    I really like what ChannyBoo23 said at the end of her response 🙂

    I agree with those that get the urge to straighten for that interview or just b/c. However, because of my hair people approach me often. I get more smiles, hellos, random conversations and things like that. People are amazed by how I can rock an afro one day and curls the next. When I was permed I worried about my hair more than ever! WP(white ppl) seem more to accepting of my natural hair than some BP. It gets to me when BP look at my fro with disgust. I remember once I was walking to my car and someone yelled "Get a perm." I'm more unconformable around my people with my hair than anyone else.

  • CandaceMichelle says:

    I have been having this dillema all day! I have been transitioning my short relaxed hair for the past three months and this sunday I am getting my engagement pictures taken. This is the only moment in the last three months that I have been anxious about how my transitioning hair will look! I've even become anxious about my fiance's opinion. Instead of straightening it, I decided to just amp up my search for a great stylist in LA who specializes in natural hair. Let me know if you ladies have any suggestions!

  • Anonymous says:

    My sister had her hair in braids but debated taking them out for a job interview. She has been unemployed for nine months and her husband had just been laid off. They both thought she should wear her hair straight for the interview. I asked a couple of white recruiters what they thought and they all said she should KEEP the braids, be herself and she'd be more likely to stand out. I told her she should wear her hair in the way that gives her the most confidence so she would not be distracted in the interview.
    She took out the braids and flat ironed her hair. We're waiting to find out if she go the job.

    Sometimes it seems we are more worried about our hair than white people are worried about our hair.

  • Me says:

    OMG!!! I was nervous about my natural hair for an interview I had last month. Because I have a not so teeny weeny afro (medium now) I considered wearing a wig, but I decided not to and did a nice neat puff. I walked in and one of the women on my interview panel was rocking her teeny weeny afro!!! Too funny!!! Oh…by the way my first day on the job was yesterday!!! Ladies…just be yourself!

  • Anonymous says:

    I feel comfortable wearing my hair in natural styles and all. But, the reality is not everyone is as accepting of our natural hair…especially other black women. I had problems in my last job because of my black female boss's view of my natural hair. I think she saw me as a rebel, and that she wouldn't be able to "control" me because of the assumption that I was too strong willed.

    I have been out of work for a year now, and I am praying that I get an interview soon. But,I will most likely straighten my hair for all interviews because I need a job to survive. I can't take chances hoping the employers will be as accepting as they should. Times are changing, but were still not where we should be with this issue.

  • Chaka_Millz says:

    I only been natural for a year and some change and I dont feel the need to straighten my hair for special occasions or job interviews. For my last job interview I wore my hair out in a twistout I believe and it turns out my manager was natural too. My main reason for not straightening (not that I have a problem with it) is that quite frankly my natural hair makes me stand out. I mean I had straight permed hair for my whole life basically (since about age 4) so I dont miss it too often. I rarely have people forget who I am once they've seen my hair and my personality in action. My hair is the truest and most candid expression of who I am and if someone doesnt accept it then they couldnt possibly accept me.

  • Anonymous says:

    I admit that I always opt to straighten my hair for interviews, first dates, special events etc. not because I think I will be more accepted but because I am still trying to battle the idea that I look better with my hair straight and that I am more comfortable with my straight hair. I know, I got a lot of work to do but I am still trying to reverse the messages pumped into my brain over the years and these messages were deep. I was going out with a guy that I'd met for the first time and when I was going through the whole panic of what I should wear, my friend says "you are going to do your hair right? I think you should wear it straight". Im still working through my hair issues.

  • Chéri says:

    I've Notice That The Only People That Seriously Judge People By Their Hair On The First Meeting Are "Black" People Whether Hispanic Or Not, Sorry 2 Say That…I've Had Long Locks And Interview with my Locks In Ponytails & Hanging Down…The Only Thing A Caucasian Person Has Ever Told Me About My Hair Whether Straight Or Locked Was How Do I Make My Hair Do That Or I Wish My Hair Would Curl Like That..Are You Polynesian Or Indian, LOL…Seriously Secretly Half Of The People Of Color Who Do Judge You Wish They Had The Guts 2 Wear Their Curls…I Get The You Have Beautiful Hair….Do You Think You Might Relax It? Weird Right?!!! The Only Reason They Ask That Is 2 See How Long It Is…Ummmm It Called A Rollerset If I Want 2 Wear It Straight…LOL

    To The 17 Year Old Don't Fret About It Dress 2 Impress And Wear Your Curls…In My Entire Life I've Never Had A Man Say I Like Bone Straight Perm Hair Better Than My Curls…The Current Guy I'm Dating Does Tell Me All The Time He Stopped Talking 2 His Cousin For 3 Weeks Bcuz She Got A Relaxer,LOL..And He's No Thug He's A Fine Educated Man!! If You Are Confident They Will Love U!

  • Anonymous says:

    i am 50 and have been natural for 10 years, fortunately i have my own practice, and i don't have to be concerned with what others think. but in the real world, locks and natural hair are not appreciate by general population. they don't understand it and don't find it attractive. My daughter is in medical school, she recently cut her hair and is wearing a cute short do, i have advised her to be prepared that everyone will not be charmed by her natural look .. it is a white "right" world short natural hair is not acceptable in some situations and professions, unfair yes.. but it is reality.. let's not delude ourselves awareness is power.. put on a wig, get the job then walk in with your natural and smile.. LOL

  • Chéri says:

    This comment has been removed by the author.

  • Anonymous says:

    I am 17 and have been natural all of my life. And I know it sounds bad but if I go somewhere that I know there was going to be guys there to impress, like a football game, I will almost always straighten my hair. I am trying not to do this but especially at my age there are not that many naturals and I feel like when I do have natural hair I have to work twice as hard to impress a guy my age then when I have straight hair.

  • Anonymous says:

    Based on experience, I feel that short natural hair is less acceptable than long natural hair unless it is straight.

  • Anonymous says:

    For my last interview that I am now working at I styled my hair in a very neat twist out. I do believe people judge your hair since in corporate environments your judged from your makeup to your shoes. First Impression are important because you don't want someone writing you off before you opened your month. I usually do styles to hide my natural curl 4a because I find people still like to label it (from whoopi [for jumbo twist] to soul sitter) but if you look like a 3c to a 2a nobody classes you. For functions like family and friends Friends are very accepting and family well my grandma sucks so I don't care if she wants smooth hair. But atleast the hair should be neat, if nothing else.

  • Monique says:

    I used to straighten my hair for interviews or large networking events. I don't anymore. However I will opt for a more conservative natural style like twists or a neat fro for these types of events as opposed to letting it be wild.

    @ Jay – Heat damage is real, happened to me. Damage depends on the amount of direct heat applied to the hair. You can chance it, but once damaged, your hair will not turn back.

  • D_luv says:

    I was natural and happy for 8 years and went back to creamy crack for a job. One word: regret. Now I will NEVER unwillingly change my hair again, and that includes straightening my hair (I don't like the loss of volume) just because I am trying to make a certain impression. Besides, I have found that a lot of the pressure to change you hair is imaginary, and the rest of it comes from black women who shouldn't care (and don't matter)!!!! I've found that nobody else cares, and that includes, men, white folks, corporate bigwigs, and government types.

  • Unknown says:

    I did the same and use to straighten my hair for interviews, but at my last one I figured that if they didn't want the real me, it wasn't the job for me.

  • Unknown says:

    I would have to say that people do judge you by your hair regardless before they get to know and especially if your natural. It's funny because since I have become natural, brother's call me queen, and I personally think they put more effort towards letting me know that they respect my decision on being natural. Which is great! But you also, get those people who think that being natural makes you fit a certain stereotype if you know what I mean…

    My best friend got married last year and I was the only one in her wedding party that was a natural. I struggled at first because I wanted to fit in with everyone else and thought that my hair would make me stand out. I laugh now when looking back: I tried straightening and other methods and it just did not work out. Lol. and I'm glad because I ended up rocking a curly natural up-do that made me stand out and that's was a turning point for me to embrace WHO and WHAT I'm made of. 🙂

  • Balls Of Beauty says:

    good topic becuz i was literally thinkin of how i'd wear my hair for an interview. yes im proud of my curliness but in the game of politics n the corporate world i'd feel like i had to straighten my hair. but wouldnt that be hypocritical if i did that and then show up on my 1st day wit a big wild fro, lol.

  • Anonymous says:

    I used to be this way. I thought that I needed to straighten my hair for interviews and then once I was sure I had the job, I could rock my wash and go and not look back. As of late, I have been really trying to leave my hair alone and let it grow, so straightening has not been an option to me. I had a job interview to which I wore a wash and go. But most importantly, I wore a nice suit, nice shoes and had my kick-a** resume to top it all off. Now that I have the job, I no longer feel like I need to straighten to gain favor in corporate America

  • honeysmoke says:

    No and no. I slick my hair back and put it up with a Flexi-8 on those days when I need to impress folks.

  • Anonymous says:

    At first I was all about straightening my hair (especially since I've been transitioning) but now, companies are more accepting of natural hair so it doesn't seem to be a problem. I think your resume and your skills will shine through much more than if you have a head full of hair or a bald head.

  • QTY PYE says:

    I think first impressions are always important overall. If a person is put together head to toe neatly and their personality comes across smooth, I think regardless of being natural or not natural shouldn't matter. It is all about working with what you have and being confident. Now would I go to an interview rocking a fro-hawk, no, I would do a more professional natural style, maybe a back-do or up-do.

    When it came to important events, I never thought about straigthening my hair. I wore my hair natural to my wedding, wedding rehearsal, an interview I had last week, photo shoots, the list goes on.

    When I worked in the hospital a couple months ago, my natural hair was like walking on the fashion runway. Every single day I got compliments from random strangers, some of these strangers were saying hi on a regular basis just because my hair is what made me stand out. All colors, all ages, all sizes. Never one negative feedback at work. Even my boss (73 white male) loved my hair, but his family and himself use to live in Jamaica for 6 years, so I think he appreciate black culture.

    If your confident with what your working with, no worries. Do whatever makes you feel comfortable.

  • KeetaRay says:

    I think in general, people are more now more accepting of natural hair than they have been in the past. I don't feel that MOST people will look at you differently for having natural hair.

    Also, @Jay – you will hear many different things re: straightening your hair from many different naturals. In general, it's possible you can incur heat damage and it's a risk. Not everyone has this problem, but many do.

  • Anonymous says:

    I am guilty of the first impression look myself. I truly think that when I see a woman with her hair in a big twist out or with two strand twists, my first impression is that she should be my homegirl. I seem to get those admiration looks from women whose hair looks as frizzy as mine.(and I love it)

    As far as straightening my hair for an interview, I was actually considering straightening my hair for my first day back at work. I have been out of work for 6 months on maternity leave, and I want to change up my look. But I am too scared. I don't want my texture to change, and I heard it does after straightening the hair. Tell me if I am wrong.

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