Corporate America and Natural Hair

“LOL, I would have gone all silver…but you know, Corporate America.”

That is the tweet I sent to the homie. He had just read my article on my silver|black hair transformation to look like Storm from X-Men. I really wanted to go all silver with my protective style this Summer, but I knew that if I did, I may have ended up submitting more job applications sooner than I expected. But…why? Why does something as insignificant as hair type or hair color…can be to your detriment.

corporate

I remember my very first “big girl” job coming out of college. I had gotten the job before deciding to return natural. I had been there a year, before the journey begun and my job was the biggest push back to me making that decision. Being in Reception, they always tell you, “you are the face of the company. How you represent us up here is a reflection of the entire office.” Yeah…no pressure.

When I decided to remove the 22-24-26 attached to my scalp, I was terrified. My boyfriend was beyond accepting, I mean he is the one that encouraged me to do it. My parents adored it. My sisters were inspired by it. But I knew my paycheck would suffer for it. I was terrified, cause I was the only me like me. I was the only African-American woman in that office. I like to change my hair and when I did, I was a commodity. I wasn’t entirely sure that this move would be as accepting and to some degree I was right.

“It’s different?” “Does it just stay like that?” “Sooooooo it grows up and not down like mine?” Question after question arose on Monday when I returned to the office. Some people were really good about hiding their disapproval. Others, not so much. As people were in and out of the office for the week, it took 2 weeks for the gawking to stop before I could return to normality.  Any time after that dramatic change, it seemed that I always went through something. It literally got to the point were some of my coworkers seemed frustrated by the consistent hair changes. Why is hair in the workplace such a big deal?

I could never identify a real reason why hair does make such a big difference. What I did learn, that it is consistent. In my current position, I feel as if I have the same issues, but it’s 10 times worse since the age gap here is a little more drastic. The questions and gawking are no less annoying but I am determined to do what I want with my hair. Within reason of course. We have not necessarily progressed enough in the work place for me to have all silver hair. But when that day comes, it will be awesome!

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