It's Throwback Thursday and I started thinking about all of the struggles I have had with my hair over the years. How much time....goodness...time I have lost, trying to make it do what it really didn't want to do. I even wrote about my struggles in my book- My Style, My Way because...for me, the struggle is very real.
I decided to write about the topic of hair and career.
I speak from the experience of a black woman whose hair has been politicized in North America and various parts of the world. I feel being an Image Consultant of African descent, I have a responsibility to speak up.
Our hair is different.
Curly hair, in general, is different.
It's different from what we have been told is the norm or the ideal standard.
Yet, to us, it's not different, it's what we've known to be true since we discovered the first strand growing out of our scalp.
Many women, no matter her ethnicity will likely say that hair is something that they often battle with. The hair industry is a multibillion-dollar money maker. That is a pretty huge indicator of its significance.
Yet some women are consistently underrepresented in broader society because they don't fit the mold.
Like many women, I've spent a small fortune trying to get my hair to work with me, lost countless hours of productivity, shed many tears and I'm sure caused much confusion with my chameleon hair transformations.
If you're probably saying, ok, what does this have to do with being a professional or your career?
Well, my grandmother used to say that your hair is your crowning glory. Therefore, I believe it plays an important part in our physical appearance.
Yet, what I find troubling is the desire for others to dictate to us how we should wear our hair. Us, being humans in general, yet I speak from my own experience.
Check out these stories about the controversy surrounding women's hair...
Zara employee accuses store of discrimination over her hairstyle
Woman "has job offer withdrawn" for refusing to change her hairstyle
|A Muslim Lawyer Refuses to Choose Between a Career and a Head Scarf
There have been others as well.
There is an old school of thought that suggests certain hairstyles are considered to be 'professional' while others are best left out of the professional scene.
Hair shouldn't define us, yet somehow it still does. Hair shouldn't impact on our ability to perform our jobs, yet somehow there is this idea that if you wear your hair a certain type of way, your performance will be impacted.
- Our hair is a reflection of many things personal.
- Our hair is often a reflection of our culture (whether we adorn it with a hijab, a turban, an afro, dreadlocks, braids, silky straight texture)
- Whatever the case may be...it is a matter of personal preference.
- Our hair is a reflection of our personality
- Our hair should be determined based on what works for us
All that being said, I should make it clear that I believe in being well groomed, yet the definition of well-groomed can be tricky to interpret.
If hair is tidy, clean, doesn't cause obvious distractions (like there aren't glittering Christmas lights adorning it), then what is the issue?
Yet, others may disagree.
I want to offer this to anyone in a position of authority who has to make decisions about a person's suitability for employment.
Leave hair out of it. Focus on credentials instead.
Unless there are clear health and safety reasons that prevent someone from wearing their hair a certain way, please focus on what they bring to their work.
If your dress code policy is antiquated and outdated...consider getting someone with experience in diversity and inclusion to give it a review.
Times have changed and we as a society need to evolve to be more inclusive and respectful of diversity.
If you do not understand something...seek first to understand.
People often misunderstand black hair in particular, yet we are redefining what beauty means and claiming our rightful place in the corporate arena without feeling the need to mask our identity.
In a multicultural society, hair shouldn't be your business...it should be the business of the person who is wearing it.
We are not our hair, so it is my opinion that no one should be forced to choose between whether or not they can feed their families or maintain their cultural identity.
Today I rock my hair short and natural, I big chopped again because I need a style that is quick, versatile, chic and represents me in my current state! That's my choice.
What are your thoughts on the matter of hair? Should someone's natural hair ever be a business decision or merely a statement reflecting someone's personality?
Chime in, please.