Natural Hair and Your Career [VIDEO]

Are you thinking about going natural, but not sure how doing so will impact your career? Are you looking to go on a job interview, but unsure of how your natural hair will be perceived? Many women, especially those in the corporate world feel pressured to stay relaxed because of the stigmas associated with natural hair. The CNN video below contrasts two women, both are natural (one is transitioning). One woman is a marketing exec who chooses to wear her hair in its kinky state, the other woman is a financial exec who chooses to wear it straightened.

In the video, each woman talks about the perceptions people have about natural hair. Ivy, the marketing exec who chose to wear her hair kinky, notes that it’s not really her fellow White co-workers, but fellow Blacks who give her the most flack over wearing kinky hair. They usually have all these perceptions about natural hair and want to know if it’s damaging to your career. Many are surprised to learn that Ivy has been natural for 12 years. Being natural has not stopped her from moving up the corporate ladder into more senior roles.

Natural Hair Perceptions
“People might think I’m earthy and “granola” (i.e. you’d rather hug a tree than a human)”
“People might think I’m agressive and a know-it-all”
“People might think I’m unkempt or unclean”
“People might think I’m lazy”
“People might think I’m uneducated”
“People might think I’m Afrocentic (not saying that’s bad)”
“People might think I’m___________________”

All these perceptions begin with the phrase, “People might think” True. They might think those things. However your interview, your resume, your interactions and actions speak for themselves.

Getting over the “hair” conversation
Michelle, the financial exec who wears her hair straightened, expressed that one difficult thing to get over is the initial reaction people have when they see you are natural. She retold the story of a co-worker who wore her afro to work and everyone looked at her strange. I think one of the most hassling things about wearing natural hair to work is the questions. Whites and Blacks alike who do not have curly/kinky hair tend to ask some of the same questions like: How did you get your hair like that? Does it just grow like that? Have you ever thought about straightening your hair? Does it itch?

I mean, really? Do I really want to feel like some exhibit at the zoo? In my experience, the questions will eventually subside. If you don’t make your hair a big deal, others won’t either. People may perceive you one way based on you hair, but once they get to know you, they realize that you actually know what you are talking about. I would hope that people think that I am a smart, free-thinking and conscientiousness person because I have natural hair. But then again, who cares what people think?

Please share your thoughts and experiences, and reactions to the video in the comment section below.

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