No. Never that. If that is not the most absurd remark I have heard in a long time, I don’t know what is. But–according to a new study done by Shea Moisture and the Perception Institute, that statement is valid.
NPR caught wind of the study and so did the ladies on The Real Daytime, which is where I initially heard the news. I stopped what I was doing just to watch the segment because I too, am a “Naturalista“.
As I continued watching the segment in disbelief, it dawned on me that I was subconsciously aware of these biases, it is sort of an unspoken understanding in the black community.
As I’m scouting for an internship, I took myself to the Career Services office to sharpen my resume and take advantage of any resources I could get my hands on. I sat down with my counselor, and discussed my blog and resume. Then I mentioned that I’d like to take some updated professional head-shots with my hair straightened out.
“If you don’t mind me asking, why do you feel that is necessary? Your blog slogan is, ‘Where authenticity is always expected’ so when you straighten your hair isn’t that sending a different message?” he said.
Being that he pointed that out and he was black, I knew chances were high that he’d understand my concern.
“Although times have changed, and my generation cares less, I am fully aware that in corporate america there is always the possibility of being overlooked, prejudged or told to change your hair.”
To avoid these situations, I usually style my hair in a more socially accepting way and once I know I have the job, I eventually introduce the ‘fro. It was my way of making sure that my personality was remembered and not my hair, especially to someone who may have their own subconscious reservations (sometimes, they may not even know they’re being biased).
He literally told me, ” I understand your concern but times are different now; and it’s a lot more relaxed in the workplace.” That thought made me smile. However, a month later, this study comes out and just reassures these insecurities.
It was nice to hear Tamera and Loni discuss on national television the inner dialogue that you deal with, it’s usually two conversations: your inner voice, and then your black inner-voice. It’s basically having to think for yourself (what everyone does) and then think of how people may view you or perceive you to be based on black tendencies (and weigh the pros and cons in each situation).
With my generation, it’s not really much of a topic. However, in previous jobs I can recall many times my hairstyle became a topic or someone was just fascinated with it. I’ve heard the following, and I’m really not kidding.
From curious white women, some admitted they aren’t exposed to this type of stuff:
From older white men: 50’s and up:
From a white friend:
Now, granted I also got plenty of great feedback from customers about my hair as well. Also, some people really just don’t know and they want to be educated, which is okay with me.
However, imagine if any of the people who disliked it had a say in hiring me, this could be a problem.
The point is: my hair isn’t a political statement, it’s not a pillow and it’s not untamed. It’s hair. If women from every other race can wear their hair and NOT have someone tell them what to do with it, so should black women. It grows this way, let it be already.