Perception of Natural Hair in the corporate world
Growing up, I somehow got the notion that wearing my natural hair to an interview may put me at a disadvantage. So I would turn up to interviews with weaves or wigs thinking this would alter my image and in turn alter the way I am viewed. I now know that was ignorance on my part.
I am not sure where this ideology came from but it stayed with me for many years until I had a conversation with someone close to me. They challenged me on that notion and asked why I would think my hair would place me at any more disadvantage than anyone else? They emphasised that the issue is not about how ‘they’ view me but rather about how I view myself. At first I was defensive and immediately dismissed that notion. However after several minutes into the conversation they had me listening and feeling some kind of way.
The conversation was thought provoking. They suggested that it is perhaps the black women who have adopted that mind-set that natural hair is not acceptable in the corporate world, when it is a natural part of the black woman. I was posed with the question ‘if the crown of a woman is her hair why would she hide it in order to get a higher position? Does she not value herself enough to go as she is? If not can it then be argued that she can be bought with a price or a position for that matter?’
There were further questions posed that If every other woman and race are able to climb the corporate ladder with their natural hair what makes the black woman and her hair any different? Absolutely nothing! The only difference is how she views and carries herself. The conversation pushed boundaries even further in that it recognised that there is institutionalised racism, but the colour of the black woman’s skin will not change because her hairstyle has. That was a powerful statement right there! A person should be chosen for a position based on their knowledge, skills and confidence for the job and this will supersede everything else.
The conversation in itself did not criticise a woman who chooses to wear an alternative hairstyle because that is her preference or she feels more comfortable that way but rather questioned the reasons a woman would change her hair in order to be perceived as being more corporate. .
I hope you enjoyed reading.