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Tuesday, April 28, 2015

Kinks in the Workplace: Finding the Balance...



Writing this post has been on my mind for quite some time.  I've waited to see if my view on this topic would change over time but after years of feeling the same way, I think it's safe to say that I am 100% sure of how I feel.  Not to keep you guessing but I'm referring to wearing kinks and curls in the corporate workplace.  Before we move forward with my thoughts and feelings, I want you to understand that this is MY view on this topic.  But, I think this is a view that is commonly unfairly judged in the Natural Community.

For the majority of my career I have been in Hotel Sales.  Being in the Corporate Sales industry period is a very clean cut environment usually and you encounter a variety of different people.  Some people in Sales are lucky enough to not encounter clients face-to-face on a daily basis.  I am not one of those people unfortunately.  Meeting with clients face-to-face (some new, some old) daily is a core part of my job and probably one of the most important factors in consistently bringing in revenue to the hotel.  I say all this so that you can begin to understand a little about MY work environment.  In meeting with people daily, I encounter so many different types of clients and their different personalities.  Being great in Sales means that you should be able to adapt to each person and still successfully sell your product.  Educating the client on your product and gaining their undivided attention is key but quite hard when you're having to answer a million questions about your hair style.  Admittedly, hair/clothing/makeup may spark a quick personal conversation that allows for some walls and barriers to come down.  But there is nothing worse than being 10 minutes into your Sales Pitch and a client's first question is, "So, what all do you do to keep your hair like that?!".  People outside of our community are just naturally curious.  Shoot, our hair is freaking magical if I do say so myself.  I find myself staring at Naturals all the time wondering how they achieved a style.  So, I can't blame an older white woman with fairly limp hair for being inquisitive as well.  Her curiosity is not paying my bills though.  I can't afford for my hair to be the center of attention when I'm at work.  The rules and guidelines regarding Personal Appearance in the workplace many times are in place for this reason.  Yes, we have all seen those stories of Naturals being told their hair style was deemed "unprofessional" or "against the company's guidelines".  So many don't understand that not ALL styles are appropriate for every workplace.  Let me explain.  Don't try to pull the race card when you're asked to cut your newly installed butt-length Faux Locs.  Meanwhile, last week they just asked Billy to cut his hair that had gone an inch past his ear and the week before Becky was reprimanded for dying her hair a Greyish Blonde.  If this is not the type of strict work environment you wish to work in, YOU have that opportunity to leave.  Now there have been some instances where companies have crossed the line regarding what is appropriate and not but that is not what I'm addressing because we all know what is blatant racism.


Examples of styles that I wear to the office


Since going Natural, I have chosen to maintain very simple and neat hair styles.  No one had to sit  me down and tell me to do so, I knew what types of companies I worked for long before going Natural and I knew what type of attention I wanted to attract.  Being able to wear the biggest twist out was not a priority for me.  I was hired with a brush cut/fade by a middle aged white woman and two male owners in their late 50s.  Traditional and Conservative are two words that describe all of them VERY well. LOL.  I also work in an industry that is Traditional and Conservative.  You know what's not Traditional and Conservation?  A Fro that's 2-3 feet in diameter.  LMAO.  And when I say Fro, I mean Natural Hair that has been picked out to the Gawds.  ||Think Taren Guy||  Nobody is paying any attention to what you're pitching when you are rocking a style that simply defies gravity.  Some people choose to straighten their hair for work, wear buns, wear wigs or even weaves.  To shade and condemn them for wanting to maintain a certain look while at work is just not cool.  They are doing what they feel comfortable with.  The Natural Hair Community has quickly become a space where individuals feel the need to shame others who choose not do what everyone else is doing and this has to stop.  We jokingly call these people "Natural Hair Nazis" but the proper term is "Bully".  Let people live however they choose.


Examples of styles I wear to the office

One day, I won't be working for anyone but myself and that is the day I will be able to make my own rules and guidelines for personal appearance.  Until then, the styling of my hair is not more important than my job which provides the income for a number of workers to be able to support their family as well as my own.  Your purpose at your place of work 9 times out of 10 has nothing to do with your hair.  Relaxed, Texlaxed, Weaved up, Bunning, Wigging out, Kinky or Curly... We all have to find a healthy and respectable balance in the workplace.  I've found mine, how about you?

4 comments:

  1. Absolutely love everything you said. I definitely couldn't agree more. I work in a profession where I have to maintain a professional look as well. Thank you for writing this. You hit the nail on the head.

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    1. Shana- I'm so happy this post resonated with you as well. From talks, I knew there were a number of Naturals who had a similar outlook. Thanks for taking the time to read!!

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  3. Yess!! I can definitely agree with you on this. Where I work I am the only Brown girl. I must say when I do my hair I am always questioning is this hairstyle appropriate? I keep it pretty light and classy. One of my Co-workers who is not a Brown girl told me she was going natural...hmmm...I just shook my head..lol... I always get asked questions like how often do you wash it? What do you put on it? How long is it now? Like my hair is a pet or something lol. I am a newly natural, going on 8 months tomorrow . So, I enjoy getting some insight from other naturals. It is definitely a journey, but I am enjoying every minute of it. Thanks for this post! I follow you on IG ,and look forward to your daily post :)

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