Tame Your Mane For The Workplace?

Ari 3

“But if a woman have long hair, it is a glory to her:”

~ 1 Corinthians 11:15 ~

The Natural Hair Movement that has been circulating around our society is strong in number and beautiful to see. Perhaps what I appreciate about it the most is that its a statement within itself; a woman who wears her hair naturally says a lot without having to say much of anything. To me the “wash and go” look that seemingly has everyone talking these days, exemplifies what it means to “love the skin that you’re in”. Women who carry this look also exude a sense of power and confidence. It’s almost like the light within these women illuminates from her, out to the rest of the world.

During my junior year of undergrad at Mount St. Mary’s University, I made the decision to wear my hair natural for the entire year. To an outsider that may not seem like a big deal, but for me it was, because for years I struggled with low self-esteem and it stifled my ability to express myself in my overall appearance. I found comfort hiding behind my regular press and curl; it was my signature style. Upon some much needed self-reflection though, the Lord called me to an “All Natural” fast the summer before the start of the school year; requiring me to wear no make-up and to wear my hair in its natural state. Admittedly I was scared; as a girly girl, I enjoy bouncy curls, dresses that twirl, and getting dolled up. I pondered what I would be without those things, but I trusted God more. Deep down I knew that He was trying to teach me something; He never does anything without purpose. Within that three to four month period, He restored my confidence from the inside out. I had tapped into a new version of myself and I liked her, and knew that I wanted to introduce this Ari to others. Now, I switch my look up all the time; I’ll go months with natural hair, and other times I’ll maintain my go to blow out and press, some days I’ll wear make up, and some days I rock a fresh face (with a smile of course. You’re never fully dressed without one!)

Today as I was watching daytime TV show The Real’s season 2 day 3 episode, the hosts were talking about a North Carolina news anchor by the name of Angela Green who is featured in a video on YouTube called “Big Hair Don’t Care in the Workplace.”  (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=53XMi0IJXyQ). In the 1 minute and 40 second clip, she says, “If I were to go natural, my hair would be curly. But for right now we’re not gonna do curly hair, because my bosses like it this way and that’s what we’re gonna go with.” Green then introduced an intern at the news station, Madison Jaggars (who uploaded the video to YouTube) and asked her to repeat what was said to her by some of the stations higher ups to which Jaggars willingly responded, “It [her hair] was too big, and I needed to straighten it; straighten it out, “it would be distracting” is the word they used.”  Green then followed up by saying that “In the world of TV we see it all; it just depends on what market and  what audience you’re looking for, and really your bosses, and what they allow you to do.” advising her to “straighten it for the sake of the school project.” Green goes on to say, “Depending on what market you get in, when you’re older that’s something you’ll have to deal with. But, in the workplace, just for this one, my suggestion was to straighten it out just to please everybody.” At the end of the video, she prompted the audience to weigh in on this topic with the understanding that “everybody won’t roll with that [her] answer.”

This is a topic that I find particularly interesting because I have heard this a lot; this idea that natural hair is not appropriate for the workplace. This is a subject that is not just geared toward women either, it can go for men as well. Now, although I understand the need for uniformity in the workplace, or at least a sense of cohesion, I am of the opinion that there is a balance that can be found, a “happy medium” that can be reached if people within the workplace choose not to be so rigid in his or her thinking. The internship that I got as a post grad was offered to me by the Founder and CEO of a publication who received my resume and saw my profile picture here on the blog [me with my natural hair] and made mention of it just before she officially hired me. That was a significant moment because of what it represented. I created the Simply Ari Blog in 2012 because I wanted a platform where I could express my thoughts to my readers in the realest way possible, I like to call it a “no holds bar” approach; I believe that authenticity is the key to gaining the trust and loyalty that I desire from my growing audience. The goal of this blog is to allow my work to speak for itself and give professionals within the field of Communications and Journalism a glimpse of who I am as a person and as a writer, and ultimately as a young professional; and one of the ways in which I sought to do that was to choose an image of myself that represented what I wanted this blog to depict; me in my purest form, hence the name “Simply Ari”, and I believe that the one I chose does just that.

For the sake of the young people who aspire to be working professionals, it is my prayer that something like hair is not a hindrance in reaching his or her dreams. I hope that the individuals in a position to hire can look past that, and see the amazing amount of potential that he or she has, and offer him or her the opportunity to make something of his or her self.

To the Dreamers, this is my charge to you:

“Don’t let anyone put you down because you’re young. Teach believers with your life: by word, by demeanor, by love, by faith, [and] by integrity.”

~ 1 Timothy 4:12 [MSG] ~

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2 thoughts on “Tame Your Mane For The Workplace?

  1. I definitely understand the struggle of natural hair in the workplace. I actually worked in a place where my boss was like “you always look so unprofessional. Can’t you do something with your hair or put on some lipstick?” I personally was offended and felt judged, because any black woman with natural hair can tell you that the “natural” look is actually very high maintenance. The comment really made me think. These days there is a bigger conversation about hair going on than when we were growing up. There’s less conformity and more challenging the status quo. The news anchor’s response is definitely a conversation starter. I don’t want to agree with her. I don’t want to admit that, unfortunately, sometimes challenging the status quo is not always best. You do what you have to do in order to get where you want to go. You learn the rules well and play by the rules until you have the wherewithal to break them.
    If I were that intern, I would be silently looking for a new place to work. But that’s just me.

    • Wow Solia! Thanks so much for sharing your thoughts. I love your statement at the end “You do what you have to do in order to get where you want to go. You learn the rules well and play by the rules until you have the wherewithal to break them.
      If I were that intern, I would be silently looking for a new place to work.” I agree, sometimes a silent yet powerful gesture like the one you suggested, can make an even larger impact that saying anything at all.

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