This post was sponsored by Xotica Hair, a natural hair extension company. All opinions and thoughts belong to the writer of this post.
Natural hair and corporate settings don’t always mix. On any given day, you can log onto social media and read hundreds of stories from Black naturalistas who’ve been discriminated against because of their hair at work. Studies have shown what this discrimination looks like — everything from racially ambiguous questions to being overlooked for promotions. Experiencing these conditions, even periodically, can negatively impact a woman’s self-esteem or her desire to wear her natural hair in the workplace, which isn’t fair.
From questions about hairstyles and hair types to sharing personal work experiences, we need spaces (like this) to store tips on embracing natural hair in the workplace and beyond. Here are 3 tips that helped me overcome the stigma of wearing my natural hair at work.
Love your natural hair
You know this already but it’s worth repeating. When you truly love your hair, nothing anyone says about it will deter you or make you feel inferior. I experienced this true love in 2012 when I did my first Big Chop. I’d resolved in my mind that I wanted to reach a new sense of self and that cutting my relaxed hair off would be the way to get there. My dad reluctantly put his clippers to my head and shaved off what was left. Immediately, I felt freedom and clarity in ways I’d never felt before.
My next day at work generated lots of questions and stares but I didn’t care. Loving myself and my hair gave me a noticeable boost in confidence at work and in my personal relationships. That beginning journey showed me that I can do anything and be alright no matter the outcome.
Wear styles that suit you
Hairstyles won’t remove stigma and bias Black women often feel from their employers. However, knowing how to style and manage your hair can make a difference in how you perceive natural hair personally and socially.
Knowing that I wanted to be natural was one thing. Knowing how to be natural was something totally different that I didn’t understand initially. I didn’t know how to do basic maintenance or any of the styles I wanted to achieve, which added to my work anxiety as my hair grew. Mastering those how-tos, in the beginning, is critical and can save a headache or even shame later on.
Whether you’re rocking a twist-out or kinky curly coily clip ins, finding styles that look good on you and are easy to manage make “working while natural” easier. This model is wearing kinky curly coily clips ins from Xotica Hair for added volume, thickness, protection, and easy manipulation.
The struggle can be real but you’re not alone through it. If you’re having trouble connecting with a fellow naturalista at work, find your tribe online. Thankfully, the internet is home to thousands of mediums dedicated to natural hair. Join groups, comment on great threads, and travel to hair events when you can. These kinds of actions will positively reinforce your decision to staying natural at work at all.
Ariel C. Williams is the founding editor-in-chief of Slay Culture. She’s a millennial who’s down for the culture, loves Netflix, and pegs Master P as one of her entrepreneurial heroes. Buy her book The Girl Talk Chronicles here. Follow her at @ArielSaysNow everywhere.