Natural Hair in the Workplace

When the question comes up on forums/blogs about changing or straightening hair for a job my usual response is: I would never straighten my hair for a job because I don't want to work any place that doesn't appreciate natural hair. This is 100% how I feel, but I also have to keep in mind that I do have the luxury of feeling this way. I work in the performing arts field, so dress codes and appearance standards are not as strict as if I was working in a skyscraper somewhere.

I am however a FIRM believer that natural hair, just like any other hair type, can be styled "professionally." There are special considerations to think about when it comes to Black women being obligated to alter their natural hair for employment.

After the initial transition from relaxed to natural many women feel "less-than" and a major part of that is how they are perceived by others. Having to straighten their hair for an interview only adds to that feeling.

Straight hair is a look that says, 'I fit in internationally, I look like the power base.' Interviewers put interviewees looks/hair/clothes through their OWN personal filter and background, which sadly, at this stage of the progression of society, means many of them see natural hair in a biased light as unprofessional, regardless of style.

The sad truth is, for some women it is a requirement of the industry or place they want to work to have straight hair, especially if their natural hair is too short to place in a bun or pony tail. What is to be done in that predicament? Wear wig at work? Suffer heat damage by heat straightening the hair constantly? Use dangerous chemicals to straighten your hair? None of those seem ideal to me.

I hope for a day when natural Black hair styles will be considered just as "neat" and "professional" as all others.

What do you think about natural hair in the workplace?


  1. I am also glad I work in a field where I am free to wear my hair as I please. There isn't a job I see myself doing where it would be an issue. Our hair is such a complicated topic and it shouldn't be. It is just hair.

  2. I too am thrilled that I work in creative/beauty fields that don't require me to "tame" my hair. A twa and neat locks seem to be accepted in the workplace as does most styles, as long as they are NEAT. Hyde Park is a very professional part of chicago (where Obamas are from) and I swear every black woman that I saw whenever I was out there had nice long locks, twas, or headbands with a twist out. Straight was NOT the order of the day and these are employed, upper middle class folks so they must be working SOMEWHERE with their natural hair


  3. This doesn't have to do with hair, but, I long for the day when I can go to work and not wear a bra. Honestly, requiring us to wear one? Boooo.

  4. @Bee - I worked at a job once where one of the women never wore a bra. The boss ended up buying her some pasties to keep her nipples from showing lol, but she let her go bra-less.

  5. I long for the day when strangers won't feel the need to touch my natural hair!

    I'm mulatto and have nautrally big curly hair but I've been flat ironing regularly for about 5 years. Before that I used to have strangers feel the need to come up to me and touch my hair and comment on how "neat" or "cool" or "weird" it was. I think the language around natural hair needs to change. In a world where everyone wants to be beautiful words like the above reinforce the idea that natural hair is not beautiful when IT IS!

    ~ Harlow

  6. I too don't care to work at any place, where my hair plays any factor in whether or not I get the job.

  7. I like the look of natural hair on women, I think the look is sexy (not that you can't be sexy if you relax it).

    @Bee - I work in the deli at a supermarket and our uniform shirts are white so I wear a bra when I work. However, when I work after school I usually wear a dark shirt without a bra at school. One day I forgot my bra when I brought my uniform for after school. I had to wear my black shirt under my work shirt (which isn't allowed). When I explained to my boss that I forgot my bra she asked me why I didn't wear one. It hadn't occured to me how weird it might be.

  8. As bad as it is that there needs to be this movement. I'm proud of America that there CAN be this movement and that every day Black women are stepping up and saying no to being ashamed of their natural hair.


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