The Engineer: It's Not Just Hair

Updated: Jul 12



Hello Everyone! Hope you're doing well! This week we'll be talking about Natural Hair in the workplace. Keep Reading!


As someone who wears their hair Natural 90% of the time, I've learned to embrace it, love it and focus on what it looks like to me. I think it's important to define that for yourself because people are going to always have something to say regardless of whether you solicit their opinions or not! While I'm very fortunate that I haven't had a situation where I needed to go to HR because of my hair (someone did touch my hair once though but I was able to explain to her why that wasn't okay and she apologized profusely). It's important to recognize that other people haven't been so lucky and that's what we will be discussing today.


Did you know that hair discrimination is still legal in 43 states?! Across the country black people are disproportionally affected by hair discrimination practices across the country not just in the workplace but outside of work within society as well. However, within the workplace setting, Black Women's hair is judged far more critically than any other demographic.


When you look in the media, black hair styles such as afros, cornrows, or box braids are often seen as "ghetto" or "unprofessional" but if a white woman were to wear these styles it would be seen as "iconic" or "trendy." When Black women speak up about a White woman rocking black hair styles, it's immediately met with "it's just hair" or "it's not a big deal" but if it is just hair then why are children being suspended from school, being bullied, or their hair being deemed as "distracting."


All of this makes it hard for us as Black women to celebrate our hair. We're constantly worrying about how we want to do our hair to make it look "neat" or worried if we will draw too much attention to our hair. Often we feel that we need to wear our hair in a specific way in order to "fit in" with the rest of the world. I can recall when I straightened my hair once and I got a lot of "omg I love your hair it looks so great when it's down" when I wear my hair down 87% of the time. It's frustrating because comments like that tell me that you like my hair right now because it looks similar to yours. Comments like that show the biases that people still have toward Black hair and that more work still needs to be done.


I'm here to tell you to stop all the worrying and wear your hair how you want to. I love my natural hair because it's beautiful, its versatile, and it's a part of what makes me me. If any employer or anyone I work with has a problem with it, then I wasn't meant to work with them in the first place. Embrace what makes you, you with all your coils, kinks, and curls!

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