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Curly Nikki

Social Costs to Going Natural?

By January 27th, 202155 Comments

Social Costs to Going Natural?

by Celine

Are there social costs to going natural?

An article published by Sociological Images argued that the reason women spend so much time on their appearance is not a nature versus nurture argument. Rather women experience more social costs than men if they have not properly groomed themselves to meet society’s expectations such as loss of a promotion, rejection by a lover etc. The authors’ state: “We [women] learn that our appearance matters to others and that others — strangers a little bit, friends more so, and bosses and lovers especially — offer rewards and punishments related to how well we conform to their expectations.”

While reading this article I wondered about black women like myself who are transitioning to more natural styles (unrelaxed strands). Since blackness already falls short of the current beauty ideal (straight, blowy, blonde hair, white or fair skin, fine features etc) will hair styles that show-off our natural texture put us at a greater social disadvantage in comparison with our relaxed or weave-wearing counterparts? I remember watching an interview by Chris Rock for his film Good Hair. He was asking a group of college women about the decisions they made about their hair. One relaxed Nubian told an afro-wearing young lady that although she thought her hair was cute, she would never hire her for a job if she came strolling into an interview with ‘that hair’.

Okay some might argue that an Afro is not really corporate or professional hair (maybe this is another post topic: What is corporate hair for a naturalist?) But what about twists, bantu-knots and the respective “outs” of all of these styles? What about braids, locs and hair pulled back into puffs? I have always gone into an interview with straight hair or with braided extensions. To a certain extent, I do believe that wearing my hair in a natural style might pose as a disadvantage in the hiring process. Is this a perceived cost, or has someone experienced not being hired because of their hair?

I also wonder about black models and actresses where physical appearance plays a huge role in the hiring process. Do they get more jobs and make more money if they sport the silky, straight flowing strands? What about relationship costs? Has anyone lost a lover due to their decision to wear their hair natural? What about our relationships with our family? Are we constantly hassled about our hair?

One might argue that the natural hair trend seems to suggest that the social costs attached to natural hair are decreasing. But for how long? Trends don’t last forever. And when it ends will society revert back to assigning negatives to afro-textured hair? Will we see a huge exodus of women from the natural community?

Please share your thoughts and opinions.

55 Comments

  • Anonymous says:

    I am so late seeing this, but I recently went from super relaxed, girlie spirals to my natural hair texture which is currently post-TWA (ear-length). I've always had an outgoing, perky personality which went well with my relaxed California beach waves, but I'm starting to noticed that people appear somewhat hesitant and intimidated with my natural look. I'm still the same out-going, talkative person; however, now I really do feel people think I'm this militant "Sasha-Fierce" type woman all because of my hair. I want to scream "I'm still the same person!" I will be honest and admit I have been looking at different styles to wear for interviews because I want people to hear my thoughts and not just see all this hair :o/

  • The Running Philanthropist says:

    I spent 9 months looking for a job after I finished college. The whole time I was transitioning. Initially I had hair that was straight and bumped on the ends. As my hair grew out and I learned more about how bad heat was, I would pull my hair back in a sleek bun for interviews. After I BC'd I could no longer do so. When an interviewing opportunity came, I had a mini "What am I gonna do with my hair" moment. I quickly got over it because with a TWA there wasn't much I could do. I put on a headband an called it a day. After a round of 3 interviews, I got the job. I won't say my TWA was my good luck charm but my TWA increased my confidence and my increased confidence improved my performance during my interview. I know that everywhere I go people react differently go my hair but I don't think natural hair results in social disadvantages if you don't let it.

  • Anonymous says:

    Please take a moment to check out my BLACK HAIR documentary about the Korean Take-over of the Black Hair biz…it's posted at this link
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=p96aaTSdrAE

  • Anonymous says:

    I think short fros are more accepted in the workplace. I have seen a couple news reporters with low cut fros.

  • Anonymous says:

    I feel we talk about this over and over again just to talk about it and it's the same argument over and over…can't wait till something in the climate actually changes this discourse…

  • Anonymous says:

    There is a difference between soft styles and hard styles. An afro is a hard style. Just like a mohawk is a hard style (even though the modern version is softer). The point I am trying to make is…it is not that natural hair is not professional, some styles just don't appear well groomed. Natural hair does not mean hair that sticks out everywhere…there is a difference between the person with messy locks and the person with well groomed locks…so it is not the natural hair…it is the messiness that people want the world to accept that I have a problem with.

  • Bree says:

    As Anon 1:55 hinted on there are social cost in damn near all walks of life from being fat, natural, female, etc. If it is not one thing it is the other. Personally, I think it all depends on you, your location and the environment/people you work for for most it isn't a hindrance but for a few it is. Even though being natural is trendy we must not forget that natural hair women for the most part is a drop in the bucket compare to the majority of women who still relax or wear their hair straight. Like someone said it is all how you play the game. I have heard and read comments by many natural hair women who said they straighten their hair for an interview and once they got the job they begin wearing it natural

  • NaturallyStarlet says:

    I once shared the fear that many african american have that their natural hair will not be accepted in the workplace. However i have been proven wrong time and time again. It was a gradual transition from never skipping touching up my roots w/ the flat iron on a workday to fealing comfortable wearing a twist out to an interview (and i got the job!!!….in a down economy no less). I have always gotten positive a response from co-workers and superiors about my hair and the styles i wear. Even being asked for tips, product recomendations and reviews.
    Healthy hair is beautiful to anyone whose eyes are open.

  • Sicily says:

    From reading blogs and news articles, I know black women have gotten fired for wearing Natural or straight ( so screwed either way?). I was once fired and told it was because they had too many people and had to let the newest one ( me ) go. Later, my cousin ended up working at the same place and later told me I got fired because of my natural hair. I knew the boss's son had a problem with my style ( and he was Biracial- black/white), the boss was a white woman.

  • Anonymous says:

    the first thing that i feel needs to be asked is for those who argue that natural hair is or could be a hindrance to ones ability to be hired in a professional environment, what is the basis of your argument? who has told you that this is the case? what is this person's professional experience/ educational background? what is your real life experience with being discriminated against because of your natural hair? who was it that discriminated against you? what was this person's educational/professional background?

    why i ask all of these questions is because not a single person who has supported this theory of discrimination based on natural hair in the workplace has given an answer supported by experience. i'm an engineer so in my opinion a theory is worthless unless it has been tested and proved true. otherwise it's just an idea. i also believe that arguing that if you have a different texture of natural hair that makes a difference in what your experience will be is the same as the argument i've heard so many times: i can't go natural because my hair is unusually difficult to care for and i won't look right.

    as for relationships, i really would not care if someone said they wouldn't date me because of my hair texture. to me that person is just shallow. really would we be having this conversation if the question went more like: how does having dark skin pose a difficulty in finding a relationship (or job)?

    and the question of family support. in my case i have absolutely no problems with my mother's side of the family and my natural hair, and most of my relatives on that side are well read, very accomplished, professionally successful and have traveled all over the world. the only criticism i receive about my hair is from my father's side of the family of whom only a handful of my cousins have attended college (even fewer receiving a bachelors degree) and my aunts just barely graduated high school. from that you can probably tell whose arguments i put more stock in.

  • Anonymous says:

    Yes, very true. I'm not sure why anyone takes a bunch of high school students or other non-corporate types as the authority on what it takes to move up the ladder in corporate America.
    I'd guess that many of the people assuming that hair can keep you out are NOT part of corporate America. The comment/bet concerning the idea $80K is a lot of money for a black person to make with natural OR relaxed hair speaks VOLUMES about the person posing the question. $80K isn't a lot of money and you could find a whole room of black female engineers who make that…but trust, there are many people who make 6 figures a few times over who have natural hair. It's just a matter of the circles that you run in.

    As for whether not it holds you back, Oprah Winfrey has rocked an Afro, a relaxer, a weave, and a blow-out during her ascent. I think that for the past couple of years, she was doing blow-outs but is back to relaxers, and she was wearing afros on the air in Baltimore in the 70's and 80's, and if you see her show when it was still a local affair, she still had her afro.

    I really think that a lot of people who lack professional credentials and formal education really do believe that hair is what is keeping them out of the job market. If it is such a magic bullet, why didn't the women spending $1000 on weaves have better jobs?

    @Catcurls, botox is not injected into anyone's lips to make them fuller. Botox is used to paralyze facial muscles and once that happens, the skin looks smooth b/c you can't "wrinkle up" your face. Full lips are made using restylane, gortex, and in the "olden days" of the procedure, they used silicon (Lisa Rinna just had corrective surgery to fix that).

    The fact of the matter is really that black is black, and someone who isn't in the mood to hire a black person isn't going to pick one who has a weave or wig.

    As someone said, if you really were in any of the high paying professional fields, you'd see plenty of women getting along just fine with their natural hair.

  • Anonymous says:

    I work in corporate recruiting and I do not beieve there is a disadvantage. With regards to employment, just find a "work appropriate" natural style. With regards to friends, if all they care about is hair, they do not deserve to be categorized as a "friend." With regards to men, different men have different tastes and it is nothing to take personally if they do not like your natural hair. Just as many men do not prefer naturally straight or relaxed hair, there will be some who do not like naturally curly or kinky hair. Everyone has their preferences. Just think of what you look for in physical attributes in a significant other. I am sure there are plenty of men out there who LOVE natural hair.

    As for my experience in with this, I have been transitioning for about 8 months now. I have received more complements from my friends, co-workers and boyfriend now than from before I decided to go natural. My friends are from all backgrounds (black, white, latin, etc) , I work in a predominantly white workplace, and my boyfriend is latino with naturally bone straight hair. The most criticism has probaly come from my mother, but we laugh it off. Hair is definitely not the most important thing in our relationship.

  • Anonymous says:

    I am 40 years old, I have a BA and a MA degree. I have natural hair and have earned promotions without the hot comb or a relaxer. The confidence that you have and project in your workplace, home, and among others is what I believe becomes the deciding factor on how others treat you. Displaying your competence and knowledge will pay off eventually and result in the elevation in your job that you seek.

    The author of this post should have carefully looked at the titles that introduced the girls that Chris Rock interviewed. They were not college students, they were high school students from Santa Monica High School in Santa Monica(Los Angeles County) California. I just watched this documentatry on HBO and what struck me was the predominant socio-economic (poor and stereo-typical) class of the folks he was interviewing and especially the high school students. Most appeared to be uneducated folks from areas where they still may believe Jim Crow laws exist (and they very well still may exist). Non-progressive folk who spend $1K or more on a weave but don't own a home.

    Back to the Author's question of whether wearing naturual hair lends to social costs. well if you are black, were born black and are still black, they began once you took your first breath outside of your mother's womb.

    Some of the best and greatest natural hairstlyes I have seen are by those who hold positions where they earn upwards of 6 figures a year, in industries that are not predominately black. And as stated by one of the blogger's above the worse discriminators against black hair are black people. Some of my biggest fans have been white men in suits…LOL..

  • Manny says:

    Everyone thinks they are the exception to the rule. Just because your natural hair didn't hinder you doesn't mean it won't hinder me. We aren't the same person, different hair types, different industries, working in different regions.It's true that some of the negative reactions naturals get are amplified by their own insecurities but backhanded comments and flat out blunt insults exist. Bias is there, because natural hair isn't seen as the norm and afros still carry notions like being afrocentric / Black panthers/ and militant angry black people. Everyone is judged on appearance. Interviews are first impressions and appearance is a HUGE part of that. If you showed up in cut off jeans and converse for an office interview they would think something about it. Don't ignore that in the name of being fair.

  • Anonymous says:

    In my experience, natural hair was a much bigger deal 30 years ago (back when I first entered the labor force and 'dressing up' was more the norm, even in engineering/science fields) than it is now. And, as always, it was a bigger deal in some geographic regions and fields (e.g. management consulting, partner track at top law firms) than others (e.g. academia, graphic design).

    Same thing is true of visible tattoos and piercings these days. The times have changed, dress and style expectations have changed; this is a good thing, imo.

  • b. says:

    luvmylocs,

    If he visited many of the lawyers in Atlanta and NYC, he'd have his list I bet. Same with some of the higher end real estate agents.

  • b. says:

    Dag, Anonymous 3:16, that's real talk.

    While I agree with the posters about the confidence, rock your natural with good credentials, ect….your personal example stands out as a real-world example of what the original post was about. I'm glad to hear all sides of this issue.

  • luvmylocs says:

    a friend of mine on fb posted that he bet we could not name 10 natural women who are not in entertainment that make over $80 per year. he's convinced that to "be paid" you can't be natural. i told him it's not true. i don't know everybody's name nor would people want that listed but i know they are out there!

  • Anonymous says:

    I have been natural about over 4 yrs and when I interviewed for the job I have now(hospital)I had locs, I have since cut those off and wore a fade. During that time I was invisible..seriously! In the winter I wear a wig and many of the doctors started introducing themselves to me like they had never seen me before!! I'm not kidding! Even the administrator talks to me but only when I have hair. I started letting my natural hair grow out in October of this yr and I wear a wash and go or a fro but since its winter I have started wearing my wig. Well last week after putting all names in a hat I was picked to be photgraphed to represent my department(im the only black) and immediatly everyone asked "are you gonna wear your wig?" Mind you my wig is a straight haired bob cut. I feel like if I'm going to represent my job I want to do it with the real me not a wig, I mean I love my wigs but my natural hair is who I am.

  • Anonymous says:

    Yes natural hair IS a TREND! See 1b says it all.

    And I like the direction this trend is headed towards!

    Websters Definition of TREND
    intransitive verb
    1a: to extend in a general direction : follow a general course mountain ranges trending north and south b:to veer in a new direction ;bend a coastline that trends westward

  • Anonymous says:

    IMO natural hair is a trend in some ways like braids or dreads were a trend. There was a period of adjustment in society to accept braids and dreads although worn in a professional manner as professional styles. These styles have become much more accepted over the years although I am not aware of any CEO/CIO/VP or other high level management person who fought there way up the corporate ladder while rocking these styles on a consistent basis. I think natural hair will become a styling option as those natural styles are. But, I also believe african american women will begin to have a healthier picture of themselves and what beauty means to them and in doing so will begin to further define beauty of our natural hair to society. A couple of things that believe me to think this way is that this had happened in several areas, initially our derierre was considered too round, now there are derierre implants done so they appear closier to what some of us were blessed with naturally. Another more significant change in beauty women of color have greatly contributed to is the beauty of full lips. There was a time black women lined their lips with darker shades to make them appear smaller. Now women of other races use botox to have fuller lips many of us, again, were blessed with. Do you see the trend here?

    -Catcurls

  • Anonymous says:

    @Aisha Said it, thanks for the compliment…I was only pointing out the issue with grad degrees b/c black women are far less likely to be the screeners who get to turn you down for the job and are less likely to be your superiors as you move up the ladder…not implying that having just one degree is a problem at all, and I think that Ursula Burns only has a BS (in engineering).
    The law partners, the heads of surgery, the managing directors at investment banks, etc. are probably not going to be black women (yes, we have representatives in all of those fields, but I'm not sure how the typically lone woman would get to override her mostly white male co-workers by insulting your hair;if everything about you if on point, she'll undermine herself trying to neg you).
    My point was to be mindful of who has the power and what you are really going to judged upon by those that do. Grandma might not like your natural, but she's not hiring you either!

  • ZoeAaralyn says:

    I think that now in the media, that more women with textured hair/natural hair are getting more roles when it comes to commercials. It has been something I've realized for a couple of years now, like if you think about commercials such as Nationwide Insurance commercial with the black woman, and the Yaz birth control commercials, and the NuvaRing commercial. I feel that in this day in age, when it comes to hiring black females for commercials that they look for women with natural hair. I don't really have expereince with any other hiring process with natural hair.

  • Anonymous says:

    There are social norms to everything – not just hair – clothes, weight, actions, within cultures, etc…and when you leave these United States – there's another set of social norms to deal with. Its always there.
    So how you handle it is up to you – I say be confident in who you are – hair and all. Hair is a bonus. I've worked in corporate america all my life – and my hair has never negatively impacted my upward mobility – because I wasnt hired for my hair – but my competence, credibility and confidence. Coworkers are always intrigued by the many ways I wear my hair and I take it all in stride. Thanks for the reminder of Ursula Burns – she's one of my sheroes.

  • Moni says:

    I agree with those who state that the "social cost" of going natural is highly overstated. Like Kristie Lynn, I went natural in law school. I interviewed for and got a variety of jobs in the legal field with my natural hair, from twa to bun. Those jobs were in conservative law firms and in house at major corporations and universities. I currently work in house and usually wear my hair in a bun or braidouts. I get way more compliments when I wear a braidout. I also agree that "our own" are faaaaaaaar more likely to think that natural hair is unprofessional than anyone else.

    On a personal level, I recently started dating again after a long term relationship and I have had men specifically tell me that they love my hair (my ex also loved it). My family loves my hair (now!) and even when they didn't it was never significant enough to be considered a social cost. As anon said, if you love yourself and have confidence in who you are and your inner and outer beauty, those around you will have no choice but to agree.

  • Bmore Natural says:

    Sometimes I believe that natural hair may give an edge to a person in the workplace then straightened hair. For example, if a firm or business is looking to expand their diversity, the firm may look more favorably on the person with natural hair.

    My natural hair always seemed to aide me more then anything in my job hunt. I'm not sure how its going to affect my career prospects in more conservative areas, but I'm my twistouts and I am willing to face the challenge head on.

  • Anonymous says:

    I agree with several of the previous comments, black people have a bigger issue with natural hair than white people. All the negative comments, curious looks and just plain ignorant questions have all come from black people and most of the nicest comments have came from white people. Clearly as black people we need to get over it or at least own up to us not liking natural hair and stop blaming everyone else. I don’t think you should change your hair for a job interview unless you plan on relaxing for good. What would it benefit you to wear straight hair, get the job and then switch up…if you are working for an employer who does not like natural hair they will fire you anyway so isn’t that something you should find out before you get the job? I feel changing your hair to trick a future employer would be the same as changing skin color, eye color or anything else you were born with. If someone has a problem with the way you were born it will always be a problem so changing it for an hour or two won’t make a difference. Regardless of the texture you prefer hair just needs to be well groomed because hiring authorities usually don’t have a problem with that. Having unkempt natural hair is the same as a blond mohawk with pink highlights and lines carved in the side of your head…not professional in a corporate environment. However you decide to wear your hair remain confident and it will radiate from within.

  • Dara says:

    I’ve been natural for over fifteen years and have rocked everything from TWAs and locks to ultra big twist-outs. I’ve also worked in a range of industries, including the conservative world of accounting to my present career in academia / career management. In all of my many interview experiences, I have never felt that my hair was an issue. That’s not to say I didn’t catch a few stares here and there or notice the initial look of surprise when I walked into the room. However, I believe it all comes down to how you carry yourself and most importantly, your ability to demonstrate that you are the most qualified and enthusiastic candidate they will ever interview. The real question is why would you want to work somewhere that discriminates based on hair and why would you let your hair take the blame for a boyfriend’s issue with your hair. If you do not get a job based on “hair” or lose a boyfriend for the same, then I say they’ve done you a favor –keep it moving.

  • Anonymous says:

    To be honest, I do NOT care about the "social costs" of natural hair. I did not go natural for society, I did it for myself. I wear my hair with pride regardless of what anyone else thinks.

  • Unknown says:

    Nappy hair aside, are you qualified? I find that many folks (black, white, men, women) blame non-issues rather than considering the factors that matter. Do you have “professional voice?” Is your resume awesome? Did you show up on time? Are you experienced? At the end of the day, I’d be willing to bet that permed hair is not going to make up for inadequacies elsewhere. Of course, I’m assuming that the ridiculous chick in Good Hair is not your interviewer.

    Sure, everyone’s work environment is different. With that caveat aside, generally, naturals shouldn’t assume that natural hair comes along with a social cost without some concrete evidence. Often, the notions that “natural hair is unprofessional” or that “you can’t go to work with your hair nappy” are just unsubstantiated beliefs, carelessly passed around from one black woman to the next.

    I went natural while in law school and got nothing put positive responses from even the most conservative of my white classmates. The only person who cautioned me against going natural, for fear that I wouldn’t get a job in corporate America, was another black woman. She was dead wrong.

    I was hired for my current job with the chief justice of a state supreme court with my natural, nappy hair. And that’s exactly how I wear it to work every day. Again, I get nothing but complements. Think about it like this. . . older white people are used to seeing natural hair. They grew up in the era when natural hair was the norm. Younger white people either don’t care or think it’s “cool.” I agree that not all natural styles are work appropriate. But the same is true for many relaxed styles. Just come in the door more qualified and determined than anyone else, and no one’s going to care about your hair.

  • Anonymous says:

    WELL SAID! "December 21, 2010 11:43 AM
    Anonymous said… " (Although I only have a Bachelors, but I do very well for myself) BRAVO! -AishaSaidIt

  • DvaAuNaturel says:

    At the end of the day, performance is what counts. I've managed people and have been told that it all boils down to how you perform on the job. That is not to say that you can be a slob or look unkept, but a professional appearance, natural hair or not, and a stellar track record or strong resume and past performance history will win out every time. My former VP (who was natural) said to keep the focus on your results and performance, instead of my hair. A former mentor once told me(I had dreads at the time and had discussed promotional opportunities with him) that "what God has for you is for you". I've always remembered both of those pieces of advice. We ALL need to know that so we can stop having these discussions. I think we're making more out of it than it is and feeding into other people's continued perceptions that kinky/curly=negative/bad and straight=good (success).

    Anyway stay true to yourself, rock your natural hair while donning your professional best and sell them on who you are, not how your hair looks.

  • Erin says:

    I think that people put entirely to much on the apperance and care what people think. If you are confident in yourself that will show through no matter you look like. If you think your hair will be a problem it will. You attract what it is you thnk you are or what you want. If you are self concious then you will think that everyone is weird about your hair. Most of the time we over thinks things and it is not at all what we think is going on or being thought.

  • kitka82 says:

    Personally I would not advise someone against wearing their natural hair to a job interview. No matter what, show up polished and put your best foot forward. It's like they say– dress for the job you want. If you still can't find a job, I wouldn't blame it on your hair.

  • Anonymous says:

    I interviewed successfully for a job in a very selective company in an industry that doesn't have many blacks or women. And I did it with big hair, in person with a white exec who immediately told me how impressed he was and that I'd be a great fit with the company.
    I have no problems with relaxed hair, and only switched to natural b/c I had a series of mishaps involving the relaxer and my hair, but please know enough to understand that people who relax out of fear of what white people think are focusing on the wrong things, and aren't the people who get to decide whether you get the job or not.

    I know loads of women who are doctors, professors, lawyers, bankers, and are in positions of power and influence at their jobs who all have natural hair, and they all got hired having natural hair. Believe the lie if you want to, but what gets you the job is what is IN your head, not what is ON it.

    Please stop giving people power that they don't have because black women in your life or on TV insult your choice. Show me some video or documentation of an actual hiring manager taking issue and I'll change my stance, but for me and my friends, this is a moot issue.

    What does "playing the game" have to do with the comments of some random black women? The two things aren't related.

  • Anonymous says:

    oops i meant the anon at(9:21 AM)

    "You really made me teary-eyed with your comment. This is the reason I am soo grateful to have Curly Nikki and all of you beautiful ladies on here to really help with the encouragement."

  • Anonymous says:

    @Enigma, I totally agree!!

    Um, has anyone ever noticed that the people who want to claim that natural hair is a problem are always other black people, and usually black women? That women in the Good Hair movie was not some business executive or hiring manager. She was just a random girl. Stop giving her and other people power that they don't and won't ever have.

    Hello people, Ursula Burns is the CEO of Xerox and she has a short afro. Luckily for her, her mentor was her former boss, a white woman, and since she started her career as an engineer, the majority of her superiors in the past were white men, who also had no issue with her natural hair. Her hair had absolutely no impact on her success. I guess she missed the memo that her hair was too militant and unprofessional.

    We always want to blame white people for our issues, but every time I read these stories, it's always black women making the comments. How does a black woman insulting your natural black hair somehow get transformed in the minds of black women into the notion that white people hate your hair and you can't get hired with it? I wish someone would answer that question instead of continuing to blame them.

    And here is a situation when the fact that your fellow black women aren't the gatekeepers or decision makers for most jobs is a good thing. For a good number of us, they don't decide our bonus, if we get promoted, or anything else related to career advancement.

    Look, black women can dislike your natural hair as much as they want, but for most professional jobs, they don't have the veto power over whether or not you get hired. This is especially true for white collar jobs, and becomes more true as you move up the ladder, so I don't care what other black women think about my hair.

    Anecdotally, a good friend who was in intern at an i-bank had an older black woman pull her aside and claim that she needed a relaxer, clearly ignoring the fact that the white managing directors had hired her and had absolutely no problem with it. And as I was interning in the tech industry, a black women told me to tell one of my fellow interns to get her hair permed. I'll point out that neither of those women ever had problems getting jobs or getting promoted in their respective fields, and luckily didn't let their confidence take a hit from the insults.

    If you let someone tell you that you or your hair is a problem and you internalize it, you will fail, and could fall into the trap of blaming the hair.

    If you are an i-banker, a lawyer, a doctor, a professor, or have a job that involves another graduate degree or MBA, the black women who have issues with your hair don't have any power over you. And even the ones who are peers aren't the ones solely deciding anything about your career advancement and future prospects.

  • Anonymous says:

    To the anon comment #2 (December 21, 2010 9:20 AM).

    You really made me teary-eyed with your comment. This is the reason I am soo grateful to have Curly Nikki and all of you beautiful ladies on here to really help with the encouragement.

  • Tomika says:

    Well Ms. Nikki these are all thought provoking questions that you should get great responses too. But I am 8 months into my transition and my family is my biggest critic. They constantly ask me have I permed my hair yet or when am I going too. My dad who was a Black Panther loves my looks! He has always raised us to love our afro-centrisity!
    Career wise I am a teacher of young children in a private school that is mostly white. I have gotten alot of attention from the parents. Some of them say they love some of the looks and then other times I get the double look! Most times it makes me self conscious and sometimes it plummets my self esteem. Earlier in the transition I often thought of going back to my permed tresses. Socially it would be easier to fall in line and look like the rest of the women but I choose to be me…different then what they are used to seeing but still with my head up high in all of its kinks and curls I am still going to be me!

  • KeetaRay says:

    I have to agree with Anonymous 9:21 AM — I don't think having natural hair is an issue, in the workplace or otherwise. I interviewed for jobs over the summer with my natural hair and was hired by a GREAT company doing what I want & getting paid more than I asked for. What is for you, is for YOU. Your hair will not stop you from getting a good job or the raise you want, as long as you do your job well. And in my experience MORE men approach me with my natural hair than when I was relaxed, so I absolutely do not believe men don't like natural hair. Men tend to admire the confidence it takes women to just do it and not care what anyone thinks.

    I also don't think going natural is a trend. Many want to do it but get scared for whatever reason (I was that person), but the more people see it and the more it becomes the norm, the more some women will be willing to go for it.

    Just my 2 cents… 😉

  • MoonB says:

    I work in a predominantly black work place and community, so I don't worry about my hair being in its natural state(my boss has dreads). However, I feel if I ever wanted to leave my job for other opportunities, my natural hair might hold me back. So just in case, I do have hair straight hair wigs, but personally I don't want to wear them for an interview..and show them my natural hair that I love too..

  • Kimmy says:

    I see corporate America as a game. You have to know how to play it. I agree with the first poster that the 'afro' will always be seen as militant, wild, and not acceptable. I know that going in for that inital interview, i can't come in with a 3 foot 'afro' springing from my scalp.

    We can complain all we want, but the reality is we can't change initally how those in the position of hiring will perceive us. I understand that you are to please yourself when it comes to styling your hair, but if pleasing yourself prevents you from getting the job…..some adjustments will have to be made. I know that sounds unfair, but compromise is a part of life. Sometimes you have to look at the big picture.

    Now, once you get the job…you can start to show your hair's personality. Learn the game, then play it to your advantage 🙂

  • Enigma says:

    LOL! I work in a law firm. A very large law firm. My hair is in its natural state as are several other black women here in the ATL. I got hired with my hair in its natural state. Be confident and put your hair in some kind of style, push it back with a hair tie etc. and make sure it is clean and neat. Report to work. More importantly, stop letting others scare you out of being yourself. I think that has been done enough already. LOL.

  • Anonymous says:

    That girl on the that Chris Rock movie is an idiot. I have been interviewed and I have interviewed people. I work in a very “results oriented” field and the focus is always on your pass experience, confidence, and if you can actually do the job. If someone is hiring based on hairstyle and the job does not require some sort of modeling, acting, or public appearance, then that job is certainly not worth having. Could you image denying the most qualified doctor because, "Well, I didn't like her hair today."?!? This in itself is a bogus idea. If someone is on a public facing, modeling, or acting career path, well I would hope that he/she is well aware on being judge by outside appearances. If they are looking for a long straight haired blonde to play Rapunzel, then that is not the job for you. I may be living in my own bubble. But personally my hair has not been the deciding factor in my career, with my marriage, or with my relationship with my family. -AishaSaidIt

  • TiAnna Mae says:

    I really haven't experienced the "tax" of being natural as of yet, however, I've been warned. As a college student in INROADS we were told that we should not wear braids or other "ethnic" hairstyles until we had been hired in by the company and established a good reputation, and to a certain extent, I agree. Now of course, if you work in the fashion/entertainment industry, anything goes, the funkier the better, and that goes for natural or relaxed styles. However, in corporate america, you will be judged by your hair. I believe that buns, neat twists, wash and gos, as well as VERY neat (not too poofy or big) twist outs are acceptable for Corporate America. I think regardless of if you are relaxed or natural, if you work in a professional environment, you need to style yourself so that people can take you seriously. I personally don't want to see my doctor in a twisted up fro hawk, nor an asymetrical cut with blonde weave. That's just me!

  • sarah says:

    Anon @9.21a

    Amen!

  • Unknown says:

    "Trends don’t last forever." …
    I don't believe being natural is a trend at this point. Because of the time, patience and skills that one has to develop and maintain to obtain healthy, natural hair… I don't think the reversion rate will be high. Why would individuals take the time to be informed about the dangers of relaxers, etc, to later harm their tresses? Yes I know this statement can be comparable to being over-weight and to so many other areas in our lives that we lack maintenance in, but with all of the support out here with being natural and the confidence boosting that it brings…I don't believe this will end. In fact, I'm seeing more and more natural public figures, actresses and so on representing their roots, PROUDLY! I say…walk the walk with confidence and "THEY" will follow! Peace and Love :>)

  • cmonewms says:

    I'm not sure about work but I do think that a social disadvantage maybe real. I'm currently in transition, last night I told a male friend of mine who hadn't seen me in a while. He told me congrats, but he also said it wasn't for him. He wears long flowing dread locks, however he said although he thinks its nice and wonderful; he couldn't date someone with natural hair. He said he likes long straight hair that he could but his fingers through. I think there is a bias against those of us who choose to rock our natural hair. The people who know us will except us because they know and love us, but those who don't well thats another story.

  • Sherri says:

    On the weekends I wear a well sculpted, curly wash and go. During the week it is an afro puff. I work in corporate America, in the ultra conservative financial industry and have not encountered any issue. I'm still dressed fly and my makeup is always on point. I don't think it's about the hairstyle as much as the total presentation. While my hair is out, it is not wild. It's clean, smells great and its apparent that it was deliberately styled this way. As opposed to rolling out of bed and just going. I often adorn my afro with clips or combs. I do often receive looks (I live in a predominantly white area). But I think it's just because it's different. Not because it's viewed as bad.

  • LaNeshe says:

    I think like with any other hair, there are professional and non professional ways to style natural hair. Are there still people who won't hire someone because deep down they feel a twist-out is out of norm and therefore not for their company? Sure. All hair can be styled unprofessionally.

  • Daphne says:

    @ April – I completely agree with your last statement – it is truly important to look at who we are trying to please!

  • Daphne says:

    This topic always brings about arguments on both sides. To me the issue is your appearance and presentation, not your hair. If your hair is natural but you present yourself well – that's all that matters. I have been natural for over 10 years, from fro, to locs, back to loose natural hair. I have interviewed with ever hairstyle. The reality is what can you offer, and how do you present yourself? Societally, we need to stop using "natural" as an excuse. Maybe the relationship didn't work because it was a bad one, maybe you didn't get the job because someone more qualified applied, etc…
    As Anonymous stated – Hail to the NATURAL HAIR MOVEMENT!!!

  • april says:

    Also I do believe that social costs exist, but I haven't experienced any as of yet. Most people who have approached me romantically didn't mind my natural hair or they liked it even more because I wear it naturally. My ex loved my box braids, but I think only because they were long and shiny lol.

    I think that hair can play an important part in helping someone to express herself, not define herself. If family members or lovers aren't on board and that bothers you, then you have to figure out whose happiness are you trying to fulfill, and why.

  • Anonymous says:

    You create your own reality. If you love yourself and have confidence in who you are, no one can stop the blessing God has for your life. I feel like this article is another weapon used by the media to discourage black women from loving their natural beauty. I feel its nonsense to blame your success on your hair. Some people may not hire you because they envy your hair, but you can only fail if you give up. As far as losing a lover, yeah right. its not that serious. Black men LOVE NATURAL HAIR. You'll lose a lover if you don't love yourself. Besides, women with straight hair get left all the time, be serious. this article is supporting the idea that if you have straight hair, no man will leave you, lmao! Hair doesn't determine your fate, God does. This natural hair movement is an uplifting moment of love. It wont go away and soon straight haired women will be rocking weave fros and cornrows. It is not a trend, it is an awakening filled with knowledge of self that wont be thrown under the bus in a few years. Plus, who cares if the media thinks flat booties and liced out hair is beautiful, we know what real beauty is, we see it everyday! Oh and if you think you weren't hired because of your hair, maybe it was really because of your insecurity. Oh, and what social costs? Black women are graduating from colleges at alarming rates and are the only race of women employed more than their male counterparts. Hey, why does everybody even care so much about us and our hair? Ladies, jus love yourself and try not to buy into this type of negative prospective. You are your biggest enemy and no one, i mean no one, can get in the way of your destiny. People can try but you hold the power, with God of course, to make your paths straight. Hail to the NATURAL HAIR MOVEMENT!!! (laughing at you haters like ha ha ha)

  • april says:

    I think that the Afro will forever be seen as a militant hairstyle when it comes to the workplace. Many corporate employers might see a twistout as hair that is uncared for, and may see the person sporting one as unable to take care of her appearance. If that, then how would she be able to take care of business on the job?

    I wear my hair in twists most often but I'm still in college and I haven't interviewed much for any jobs off of campus. When I applied for some jobs I styled my hair in twists or a twistout with hair accessories, never believing that my hair would play a part in the application part of the obtaining a job process.

    I think that women shouldn't feel hindered by their hairstyles when interviewing for jobs, but that they should also be cautious and understand office politics. Don't lose a good, honest, bill-paying job over a twistout. Research the office politics of your employer/company and find a way to be yourself amongst those politics.

    Also, in the media I've seen more and more natural models such as Tomiko Fraser and some other models featured on Le Coil.

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