Posts filed under: ‘Workplace‘




Natural Hair in the Workplace: Uh, Bloggers, Consultants, Marketers, Strategist and Artist…all in one!!

Finally!!! This is the next edition of my blog series Natural Hair in the Workplace. It’s been a while, but please understand, I’m in school. On my way to become a medical doctor and public health professional, baby!

I had the pleasure of interviewing two wonderful ladies: Antoinette Henry and Imade. One is music performer. One is a music enthusiast. Both are multi-talented and art-oriented, both have their own blogs, and work as consultants.   Wow. Talk about renaissance women. I also encourage you to check out their blogs: http://www.acurlsbf.com/ and http://imadeintruth.com/.

And do not be fooled by Imade’s lack of pics. Her hair is beautiful  and I touch it whenever I can and I generally do not even like dreadlocks, but hers are soooooo nice, thick, clean, healthy, and they never look thirsty.  (Moisturize peeps.)  Get excited.

So…On your mark, get ready, get set…Here we go!!!

Antoinette Henry

Name: Antoinette Henry

Education (Degress and Schools): BA in Theater Arts with a minor in Musical Theater from Marymount Manhattan College
What is the company/organization/agency for which you work? I am a performer and  natural hair blogger. My hustles at serving at Wynton Marsalas’s Jazz Club, Dizzy’s Club Coca Cola and consulting for Philadelphia Freedom Schools.
Where are you located? Brooklyn New York
How long have you been natural? I have been natural for 9 beautiful years.
How did you wear your hair for the interview for this position? I pretty much always wear my hair natural. I, once in a blue moon, straighten it. I am very confident about my hair. I don’t even think twice about it for interviews. I figure if the company doesn’t want to work with me based off of my hair, I’m better off without them. I have gone to auditions where the casting director has asked me if I would straighten my hair and I always answer “Yes. But not permanently.” In cases where the time line, setting and feel of the show require my hair to look different, I don’t mind. As long as it is necessary and true to the story, it’s fine. But if I am doing a singing gig where there is no plot or story I wear my hair natural. I used to sing classical music and just about every performance, I made it my business to pick my hair out as big as I could. Because most people consider that genre classy, I wanted to make sure my natural hair and frizzy fro would be associated with it.
That is cool!!
Have you ever worn your hair in a natural style for any job interview? If so, for what position of what company and what where the results of the interview? I have always worn my hair natural for interviews with jobs ranging from a jazz club server to a Logistical Coordinator and Site Coordinator of non profit organizations. I am pretty much successful and get the job when I interview. (Thank God)
Do you wear your hair in natural styles in the work place? Always
If so, have you faced any conflict because of it? Any praise? I am constantly complimented on my hair. I also receive some stares. Actually, the other day a woman pulled me to the side at work to tell me how beautiful she thought my hair was. She even referenced an article in the New York Times about natural hair being fondled by strangers. We sparked up a 10 minute conversation that was extremely pleasant. I feel like the more we as women of color wear our hair natural the more people will be forced to accept it. But we as women have to get over that hump and accept our hair ourselves.
What is your favorite hairstyle to wear to work? Oh honey, I go in. I wear it out, up, in flat twists, headwraps and I always adorn it with a big African print bow that I make myself. lol. I treat my hair like an accessory. Why not? Natural hair is fun.
What hair styles, if any, are considered inappropriate in the work place? A lot of places considered headwraps inappropriate but I don’t. It always depends on the package. I have gotten away with wearing my headscarf with a big bow on my head. But I had red lips and earrings on. Plus a little confidence will make anything work. If you’re hair hygiene is right and you are  comfortable and feeling beautiful it should be acceptable. Whenever I am in doubt I ask. Before I started to wear wraps and funky scarves I asked my boss what he thought. It allowed us to have some great dialogue and I as a result, was more comfortable experimenting with styles than I have ever been.
Have you noticed any other black women working for the same company or organization as you? If so, how do they wear their hair? Well, because I have my own hair blog a lot of the women I work with end up asking about it and experimenting with their own hair. It makes me so happy to see some of them transitioning and beginning to cultivate their curls. One girl has a cute fade into a mohawk of curls, another has a cute pixie cut with coils and the other two wear their hair out most of the time. It makes my day.
Do you find it difficult to take care of your hair now that you are working for this company or organization? No. It’s all good.
Do you have any advice for professional women who want to go natural or natural girls who want to go professional (are entering the workforce)? I would tell them to present themselves they way they are. Nothing will change as long we continue to change ourselves. If you sense any issue surrounding your hair confront the issue and have a conversation with whomever you need. Be sure that the issue isn’t actually your own. The bottom line that there is nothing wrong or unprofessional about natural hair. Rock your coil. You may be surprised with how you are received.
Name: Imade
 Where are you located?
Durham, NC
What is your position?
I was an Interactive Strategy Coordinator and then a Junior Account Planner at an advertising agency.  I  am now I’m a freelance music journalist http://imadeintruth.com/
How long have you been working there?

I’ve been in advertising for 2 years since I graduated college. I’m fairly new as a freelance music journalist.  I started this past spring and now I’m doing that full-time.

How long have you been natural?

I’ve been natural since high school.  I got a perm against my mother’s wishes in 6th grade because I got picked on a lot for having natural hair.  At the time, it was expected to have relaxed hair, as well as other European features, but I can write a novel about that! It’s obvious that African-Americans have been brainwashed from slavery to now that we are inferior to white people.  On a subconscious level, I believed it because I wanted to fit in with my “friends”.  By the
time I was in the 8th grade, my hair was so damaged that my sister told me that I need to go natural.  I transitioned as a freshman in high school and was picked on by guys because they thought I needed a perm.  At the time though, their opinion didin’t matter because all I wanted was healthy hair.  At the time, I was the only girl (that I can remember) in my school who had an afro.

 How did you wear your hair for the interview for this position?

Well, I remember my hair being really jacked up for my interview as an intern!  I was locking my hair at the time and going through a troublesome stage called teenage locs.  My locs was very fuzzy so I had a scarf on with my dress shirt and slacks.  The advertising agency has a very casual dress code, so that was comforting.  But on the flip side, the agency had very few individuals of color.  I was the only natural in an office of almost 200 people.

By the time I interviewed for a paying position, my locs were looking  a lot better.  I remember getting my locs re-twisted and styled for the interview.

For both interviews, it was all about my skills and passion for working in the advertising industry.  It wasn’t about my hair.  I work with very professional people and I’ve always appreciated that.

Have you ever worn your hair in a natural style for any job interview? If
so, for what position of what company and what where the results of the
 interview?

Yes, since I’ve had my hair natural since a freshman in high school, I’ve always wore my hair natural (not pressed) for interviews.  I actually CANT STAND pressing my hair.  But I digress!  These interviews were for my positions in advertising as well as internships.

Do you wear your hair in natural styles in the work place?

Yes.  I wear my locs in different styles but I mostly wear it down.  I usually do my own locs.

If so, have you faced any conflict because of it? Any praise?

No, I haven’t.  There are co-workers who ask about my hair, and it gets quite funny sometimes.  People have thought my locs were braids. I’ve had someone recommend that I use beeswax while many loc-wearers consider beeswax like kryptonite for locs.  But most of the time, I get compliments on some of the loc styles I wear.

What is your favorite hairstyle to wear to work? (Please send picture examples)

I’m a free spirit when it comes to my locs.  I like them to be free and a little messy.  I like the feeling of going against the status quo and embracing the totality of my hair.  I like braiding my locs the night before and wearing them crinkly to work.  I also like using rods to make my locs curly.

 What hair styles, if any, are considered inappropriate in the work place?

Hmm, I’m not sure.  I never felt like my hair was ever inappropriate because I work in a very laid-back, casual atmosphere.  I think it’s fine as long as your hair is clean and not distracting to the point where it inhibits professionalism.

Have you noticed any other black women working for the same company or organization as you? If so, how do they wear their hair?

Yes, there was 1 other black woman who had natural hair.  GASP!! Even though we made a small group, we encouraged another co-worker who was considering going natural.  We were like a tag-team emotional support group.  It was great to affirm the natural beauty in her and each other.

Do you find it difficult to take care of your hair now that you are working  for this company or organization?

No, not really.  I actually stopped regularly going to a stylist because I wanted to save money.  I wanted to experiment and explore my hair on my own.  Being in a non-corporate environment allowed me to do that.

Do you have any advice for professional women who want to go natural or natural girls who want to go professional (are entering the workforce)?

Accept who you are.  You should never have to apologize for being yourself.  We as African-Americans should demand respect, but you have to respect yourself first.  I was told by a past stylist that wearing natural, non-pressed hair in the workforce was not professional. Today, I laugh at that.  I’ve been in a job where deadlines and 12 hour days were the norm.  When you have a presentation the next day, no one is going to care about your hair.  It’s about the value you bring to your job.

Conclusion: Natural hair is the business. What more can I say? God does a beautiful job all the time. =) Lol. There is more to say that just that.  One thing that Imade and Antoinette have in common other than similarities their career paths, affinity for the performing arts, and having beautiful hair is that they both say that getting a great job is really not about your hair, although appearance is important.  These two ladies are good at what they do and that is what is most important.  So please, if you are applying for jobs ladies, focus on your qualifications and improving your résumé and less on the coils or lack of coils in your hair.  

Add a comment August 28, 2011

Natural Hair in the Workplace: Academic Edition

This is a continuation of the Natural Hair in the Workplace Series.  This series focuses on women who work on college campuses. One might think that college campuses (at least some) would be more liberal in terms of hair styles.  But as you may see soon that is not always the case and the criticism may come from those some would least expect. I interviewed two women JeNell LaRue, Coordinator of Counseling Services at Gwynedd-Mercy College, a Catholic University in Pennsylvannia, and Ebony McNeal, am English Graduate Instructor at the University of Mississippi (Ole Miss) a public research university in Oxford, Mississippi.

  1. Name: JeNell LaRue
  2. Education level: I attended Gwynedd-Mercy College and hold two degrees from the institution: a Bachelor of Science in Psychology (2004) and a Master of Science in School Counseling (2008).
  3. What is the company/organization/agency for which you work? Gwynedd-Mercy College Upward Bound
  4. What is your position? Coordinator of Counseling Services
  5. How long have you been working there? 3 years with Upward Bound, 7 years at the college total.
  6. How long have you been natural? I stopped relaxing my hair in 2007, but continued straightening and wearing protective styles. I started wearing my hair in it’s natural state in January 2011.
  7. How did you wear your hair for the interview for this position? It was straightened, but had curls.
  8. Have you ever worn your hair in a natural style for any job interview? If so, for what position of what company and what where the results of the interview? No, I decided to go totally natural while in my current position.
  9. Do you wear your hair in natural styles in the work place? Yes!!!
  10. If so, have you faced any conflict because of it? Any praise? I get so much praise from everyone, especially my white and African colleagues. My Black colleagues like it for the most part, but some are more traditional and like my hair straightened.
  11. What is your favorite hairstyle to wear to work? Depends on what I’m doing. I wear it out, or one side up, in a french twist, with a head band, or in twists.

12. What hair styles, if any, are considered inappropriate in the work place? Anything that doesn’t look neat and clean. We try to use our individual discretion.

13. Have you noticed any other black women working for the same company or organization as you? If so, how do they wear their hair? Our VP is natural, and she wears a short cut. Other Black women on campus may not relax their hair, but it’s still in a straightened style, or weave.

14. Do you find it difficult to take care of your hair now that you are working for this company or organization? Not at all! It actually became much easier to maintain.

15. Do you have any advice for professional women who want to go natural or natural girls who want to go professional (are entering the workforce)? Since going natural, I have noticed that my students have been more receptive to asking questions about natural hair care, and some have even garnered the courage to go natural themselves! Even a few of my white colleagues have natural hair discussions with me regarding their own natural curl pattern. She stopped straightening her hair for a while and began to love her curls too. It’s truly moving. What I tell them (and the college students I interact with) is if you decide to do anything to your exterior appearance, remember the context in which you plan to work. Plan to look neat and put together well, especially when interviewing for a job. In the professional world, natural hair is more accepted than in the past. However, you still have to maintain your hair and your look no matter what. Try new styles and learn what your hair responds to best, then play around with your hair. It’s fun! But in all seriousness, the most important thing is to be confident in yourself. If you are confident and you wear your natural ‘whatever’ with dignity and sophistication you will set the tone.

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Ebony McNeal

  1. Name: Ebony McNeal
  2. Education Level: I am currently in the second year of my PhD in English Literature program at the University of Mississippi
  3. What is the company/organization for which you work?  University of Mississippi
  4. What is your position? English Graduate Instructor
  5. How long have you been working there? One year
  6. How long have you been natural? 5 1/2 years
  7. How did you wear your hair for the interview for this position? There was no interview, but I wore my hair pressed straight for my first semester of teaching.
  8. Have you ever worn your hair in a natural style for any job interview? If so, for what position of what company and what where the results of the interview? Yes, I wore a natural pin up for my interview at College X for the Institutional Advancement Specialist position.  I was granted the position and held it for 3 years.
  9. Do you wear your hair in natural styles in the work place? Yes
  10. If so, have you faced any conflict because of it? Any praise? In my previous position, I received disparaging remarks regarding my natural hairstyles by superior officers.  My natural hair seems to be embraced by those surrounding me in my current position.  There are often comments of praise concerning my hair.
  11. What were the disparaging remarks about your hair at your last job and who said them? Was the person black? White? Older? Younger? Man? Woman? The remarks from my previous position were not overtly disparaging.  They were more passive (i.e. “What happened to your hair?”, “Oh! That’s different.”).  Most of the remarks came from older Black women and a few older Black men.  Any remarks from my white colleagues would be more along the lines of “How did you do that to your hair?”  There were quite a few young Black women who were toying with the idea of natural hair and we sort of formed an unofficial support group for hair suggestions and ideas there.  On the bright side, lots of my young Black female students sometimes stick around after class to ask hair questions.  That’s always flattering.
  12. What is your favorite hairstyle to wear to work?a natural twist out ‘fro

    Twist Out

  13. What hair styles, if any, are considered inappropriate in the work place?  I tend to stay away from a blow out for work because of the length of my hair.  I feel it would be distracting to have such a large hairstyle while teaching.
  14. Have you noticed any other black women working for the same company or organization as you? If so, how do they wear their hair? I am currently the only Black woman in my department working in this position.
  15. Do you find it difficult to take care of your hair now that you are working for this company or organization? No
  16. Do you have any advice for professional women who want to go natural or natural girls who want to go professional (are entering the workforce)?  Sure!  Be confident in your natural hair decisions.  People will only feel uneasy about your lovely coif, if you are unnerved by it.  Don’t be afraid to experiment with new styles and products.  Sometimes it’s best to try new things on the weekends or over breaks, just in case things don’t go as expected.

Conclusion:  I did not interview enough women to make a strong conclusion since there are so many universities in the United States and I probably on interview 0.00001% of the people who work on college campuses and maybe 0.0002% of the black women who work on college campuses.  I cannot imagine the percentage of natural women on college campuses, but the anecdotes demonstrate that you might be able to survive as a professor/lecturer/faculty/staff on a university campus.   If I can, I will definitely post more interviews of natural women in academia.  Unfortunately, the black woman in the highest position at my university that I know is not natural yet. [Cough cough] Dr. Z.

The surprising bit of information we can take away from this (or at least that which is surprising to some) is that the toughest critics of natural kinky-curly hair are quite often other black people.  Older black people.   This makes sense because the people I usually hear saying that the natural is unprofessional are older black people. No. I take that back, some of my white family members said this too, but guess what.  They all have curly hair.  Could it mean that we are our own worse enemies?  Or could it possibly mean that human beings tend prefer what we do not naturally have? I do not know. Dominicans despise curly hair (the way their hair is supposed to be naturally).  Many Nigerians do not see how a person can live without a relaxer.  I have noticed that some white people fry their hair to death with hair coloring and Chi’s (flat irons). Don’t you people know that God knows what he is doing?  In almost every case listed above, the processes used are highly toxic.  Not joking.

Anyway, we were talking about natural hair in the work place, the conclusion is that maybe if you are working for an older black person, you might want to be really careful of how you wear your hair.  I do not know for sure though.  These are two isolated incidences, albeit two isolated incidences in two different states.   One in the north and one in the south. Hmmm….

1 comment August 9, 2011

Natural in the Workplace: US Department of State Edition

Hello all. As I promised I am publishing a series of posts called “Natural in the Workplace”.  As I said before, my cousin recommended that I mentally prepare relaxed women for going natural.  One of the common concerns for many women, black women in particular, is that if they wear their hair in a kinky-curly state they will not get employed or will lose their job. Considering our economic times, no one wants to risk not having a job or losing their job.  As a result, I would like to investigate to find out the truth about natural hair in the workplace.  One of the first interviewees I recruited is Marita Lamb who works for the US Department of State.  I asked her because she was the first natural professional that popped into my head and she has a job that I am possibly interested in for the future.  Marita was nice enough to pass along the survey to several natural colleagues and friends of hers and as a result I have, not one, not two, but three interviews from women who work for the US State Department.  What a great way to start out!

For those of you who do not know, the US Department of State is the agency in the Federal branch of government that deals with foreign diplomacy issues and international relations.  If people are worried that their natural hair texture is not conservative enough or is too anti-establishment, why not ask questions to people who work for the establishment?  There is nothing more “establishment” than the Federal Government. What a blessing that I have interviews from three women that work for the US Department of State.  Please enjoy!

Marita Lamb

Marita Lamb

Name: Marita Lamb

Education: I have a Bachelor of Arts degree from Spelman College and a Master of Public Policy Degree from Georgetown Public Policy Institute.

 1.    What is the company/organization/agency for which you work?

U.S. Department of State

2.    What is your position?

Foreign Service Officer/Diplomat

3. Where are you located?

Dhaka, Bangladesh

4.    How long have you been working there?

Aug 2010- Present.  I worked for the same organization in the summer of 2009.

5.    How long have you been natural?

Since August 2005, roughly 5 years

6.    How did you wear your hair for the interview for this position?

I believe in a bun or bun-like poof

Bun-like puff

7.    Do you wear your hair in natural styles in the work place? If so, have you faced any conflict because of it? Any praise?

My styles are fairly conservative for natural hair and I work in a fairly conservative work place. With that said, I have to say that I have not encountered criticism, only queries about the dynamics of my hair maintenance and versatility. People mainly praise, especially when my hair is styled differently in a way that they have never seen.

8.    What is your favorite hairstyle to wear to work?

I have a tighter curl but my hair is generally worn out or in a poof.  I sometimes twist it back

9.    Have you noticed any other black women working for the same company, organization, or agency as you? If so, how do they wear their hair?

Like black woman all over the world, the hair styles of my co-workers run the gamut from weave, relaxed, natural, dreads, and super short.

10.    Do you find it difficult to take care of your hair now that you are working for this company, organization, or agency?

Definitely. Because I am a diplomat, I live, for periods at a time, overseas.  My access to products and professionals aware of my hair texture and care is a disadvantage but on the upside it has incentivized me to learn so that I can do things myself.

11.     Do you have any advice for professional women who want to go natural or natural girls who want to go professional (are entering the workforce)?

Going natural is, in my opinion, a great process of personal discovery.  The process allows you not only to learn about your hair but your body.  You also become even more creative about your hair and personal style than you ever were.  Going natural is definitely a journey not to be taken lightly (not to be done just because your friends do it).  Like all hairstyles adorned by black women, it is one that requires much attention and maintenance and every person’s hair texture is different.  But every hair type is fun and has exciting possibilities for beauty. As for natural hair in the work place, styles completely depend on your workplace.  However I would say use your judgment and remember it is called natural hair so it is natural for you to wear it.  Do not be discouraged by those who are ignorant to the glory that is natural hair and also, if you feel like it and even when you don’t, use this as an opportunity to educate others.  Good Luck


Kedenard Raymond on the right (obviously)

Name: Kedenard Raymond

Education: Bachelor’s in Arts from American U, International Development, Master of Science from Georgetown U, International Relations (fyi these schools and focuses have no bearing on being a diplomat, expertises in the foreign service run the gamut)

 1.     What is the company/organization/agency for which you work?

State Department

2.     What is your position?

Foreign Service Officer/ Diplomat

3.   Where are you located?

Based out of DC, on assignment in Montreal, Canada.

4.   How long have you been working there?

3 years

5.     How long have you been natural?

2 years

6.     How did you wear your hair for the interview for this position?

10 humid days into a flexi-rod set; pulled up in a loose bun/updo. Funny cuz it was permed at the time but was so fuzzy and crazy, it looked natural 😉

7.     Have you ever worn your hair in a natural style for any job interview? If so, for what position of what company and what where the results of the interview?

No. N/A

8.     Do you wear your hair in natural styles in the work place?

Hell yea

9.     If so, have you faced any conflict because of it? Any praise?

People that love it, LOVE it. I’m sure some may disapprove (deeming it unprofessional) but have never said anything. (My hair is also dyed blondish/orange-ish in the front which may contribute to the disapproval, moreso than it being natural.

10.     What is your favorite hairstyle to wear to work?

Fro up-do

 Fro-updo

11.  What hair styles, if any, are considered inappropriate in the work place?

Mohawks and even Frohawks

12.  Have you noticed any other black women working for the same company or organization as you? If so, how do they wear their hair?

Yup, pretty split between natural vs. permed/wigged/weaved up and those who rock a combo of the styles like me.

13.  Do you find it difficult to take care of your hair now that you are working for this company or organization?

No.

14.  Do you have any advice for professional women who want to go natural or natural girls who want to go professional (are entering the workforce)?

Just do it and own it.


Virsa Perkins

Name: Virsa Perkins

Education: BA in Japanese Studies from Dillard Univ, and an MA in International Affairs from Columbia University

1. What is the company/organization/agency for which you work?

Department of State, Federal

2. What is your position?

Foreign Service Officer

3. Where are you located?

Washington, DC

4. How long have you been working there?

Three years

5. How long have you been natural?

Seven years

6. How did you wear your hair for the interview for this position?

My hair is shoulder length when natural, so I two-stranded my hair into twists, and pulled it all back in a bun.

7. Have you ever worn your hair in a natural style for any job interview? If so, for what position of what company and what where the results of the interview? Yes, my hair was styled the same way as my answer to question number 6.

8. Do you wear your hair in natural styles in the work place?

Yes

9. If so, have you faced any conflict because of it? Any praise?

No conflict. I receive praise by a number of my co-workers.

10. What is your favorite hairstyle to wear to work?

I usually wear my hair in twists, and at night I use spiral rollers to keep them curly and bouncy. I wash my hair every two weeks and re-twist it. A few days before I wash my hair, I un-twist my hair and wear it down natural. The latter is my favorite hairstyle and the one for which I receive the most compliments.  Thanks to Marita, I just discovered curl formers and I plan to try them out very soon. I love these spiral rollers and they come in different sizes. They are very good at keeping my hair bouncy and curly. They also don’t dry my hair out.

Spiral rollers

Twist-out (had been twisted two weeks)

11. What hair styles, if any, are considered inappropriate in the work place?

In my opinion, any natural style is appropriate as long as it is neat.

12. Have you noticed any other black women working for the same company or organization as you? If so, how do they wear their hair?

Most black women in my workplace have relaxed hair. I have, however, seen a rise in natural hairstyles among my African-American female colleagues. I see locks, mini-fros, etc.

13. Do you find it difficult to take care of your hair now that you are working for this company or organization?

No. Twists are job appropriate and look good on me.

14. Do you have any advice for professional women who want to go natural or natural girls who want to go professional (are entering the workforce)?

I would say that you should keep your hair moisturized and keep your ends trimmed. My typical hair style is two-stranded twists, and I feel that this hairstyle is appropriate and looks good on women with natural hair. I think that that what’s important is that your hair is neat and appropriate. Locks can be wild and crazy,  but they can also neat and sophisticated, depending on the environment. I work for the State Dept and, for the most part, the rules of hair are pretty lenient. A number of black diplomats opt for natural looks because we travel frequently to countries that do not sell black hair products or have beauticians who know black hair. My goal with my hair is to make it work appropriate, which means pulling it off my face, sometimes in a bun, or wearing it down in a bob.

Virsa in South Asia

Conclusion:  Natural hair is as professional as you make it.  There seem to be several black women who work for the US Department of State and also have natural hair.  Not only is the natural accepted at the State Department, but if you work there, wearing your hair in natural styles can be a great conversation starter as well as an opportunity to bond with your co-workers. From what the Foreign Officers said, the US State Department employees really enjoy seeing God’s beautiful creation! So if you want natural hair and you also want to work for the State Department, both are certainly possible (that is if you pass the exam, have a good interview, résumé, and cover letter). Whether you wear your hair natural to the interview or you decide to go natural while you are working there you can do it!! As we say in Naija, “Carry go. No Shaking.”  (Approximately: Keep moving. Have no fears.) Okay. Thanks for reading this post and if you have more questions or would like to network with diplomats in this article please email me at oyiboprincess@gmail.com and I will ask them.  If you are interested in a job or an internship at the State Department, please visit: http://careers.state.gov/  .

Oh my. Look. I went to the State Department career website to get the link and found that the woman on the front page has a natural.  Dreads in fact.  You cannot really see it that well but it’s there.

Maybe this is better:

3 comments July 27, 2011

Two New Series. Yay!!

My Cousin, T, and Me! Albeit, before I knew what I was doing.

Hey all.  I have something to tell you. So when I first released my hair blog back in June of this year, I received a lot of positive feedback, including from that of my cousin.  She called and said, “I love your blog!! You have inspired me to go natural.”

I said, “Really?”

I was so surprised.  My cousin has a relaxer and always wears weave.  Not a nasty looking weave.  Her shit always looks tight. (Sorry for the cursing, but there is not other way to say it. I mean “It always looks good” doesn’t have the same effect or maybe I have just been hanging out with too many sailors lately). Hehe. The reason why I stopped getting a relaxer was because I could not deal with it, did not really get the whole relaxer thing, and did not think it looked good on me.   Plus my mom kept telling me the relaxer was going to spoil my hair (even though she herself had a Wave Nuevo, which is a slightly gentler version of the same process). The list goes on and continues to grow the longer I stay natural and the more research I do.  But I was surprised to hear T tell me that my blog made her consider going natural.

My cousin recommended that I write some blog posts about how to mentally prepare oneself to go natural and that a lot of women want to look like Kim Kardshian because the media sends the message that KK is the standard of beauty. (Come to think  of it, my cousin is the black Kim Kardashian. Whoa!! I hope that means I am the kinky-haired Sade. hehe. They don’t know each other but if we get to chose what celebrity we want to be, I want to be Sade.)

It has been a while since I have taken the step to “go natural” so I asked some friends who still have a relaxer about what keeps them from going natural in order to address common concerns.  I actually do not remember what they said (sorry Chantel), but I know from researching websites like that of Motion’s (a relaxer company), hearing an interview from Andre (Oprah’s hair stylist), and reading other blogs that a lot of black and blackish (mixed or kinky-curly) women do not go natural for a wide range of reasons, but there seem to be several common themes:

  1. Many are worried that they will not get a man or that they will lose the one that they already have.
  2. Many are concerned that they will not get a job or they will lose their job.
  3. Many are worried that they will not be able to manage their hair.

What I have learned from this job search/career building process is that it can be damaging to one’s self to act on assumptions only without doing any real research or exploration.  So I am going to do the research for you.

I am hoping that my hair growth series covers number three (even if you do not want long hair, it should tell you a lot about managing natural kinky-curly hair).  So I am starting two other new series.  One on men and what they think of kinky-curly hair.  The other will be on natural hair in the workplace.  I have already gotten one of each from two people, but I am currently working on getting photos of interviewees who helped me.  The second one is being done for a semi-selfish reason, because I am personally looking for jobs at the moment and want to know how I should do my hair.  Do not really need to do the man thing for myself, because I already know that the fellas love it! =) haha. No shame.

Many people are under the misconception that natural women do not care about what people think. Haha.  I cannot speak for other women, but I do care.  [Gasp] [Surprise] [Shock] In fact, I started wearing an afro because my college roommate freshman year said that the fumes from my flat iron were making her sick, so I put the hot comb down and have not looked back ever since mainly because people loved the afro so much.  I always have cared what other people think and I do not see it as a sign of weakness or immaturity.

Mom: Stop being so senstive.

Me: Do you want me to be insensitive, Mom?

At the same time, if I have to choose between pleasing others and my own health, I would choose my health.  Dr. Deepak Chopra, MD  says that the happiest people don’t spend money that they don’t have trying to impress people they don’t like. I want to be that person.

However, I have actually for the most part always gotten positive feedback for my afro and other natural styles.  I am a little annoyed when people say it is afro-centric (do they even know what that means?), but aside from that, out of all the comments, less than 1% have been negative or degrading.  I do not want to risk my hair or body health just to please two or three people. It is not worth it.

T and Me again. Her camera always washes my skin out. EWWW!!

I realize that a lot of people are not aware of that the natural really is not looked down upon as much as many might think, at least not in the United States of America.  (Definitely do not think Nigeria is quite there yet or even close.  No offense.  I still love 9ja. I will however say that the Yoruba men have a proverb that goes like this, “If you want to know how  beautiful a woman is, examine her when she wakes up early in the morning.”  I will also say that Nigerian weaves are beaucoups of fun, so why not use them?)  Or maybe I should say at least according to my own experiences, the  natural hair journey is not as treacherous as people may think, but of course do not trust the perspective of one.  I am bringing you the perspectives of many and I am hoping people will be honest.  The natural might not be as acceptable in Utah or Montana, but then again, who knows?  I hope to find out. So get ready to get into the minds of men and into the mysteries of the workplace.

Bad pic of me again, but it's not about me. It's about T.

Add a comment July 22, 2011

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