The Trouble with Workplace Hair
Did you ever find yourself consciously changing your hair just for your place of work? Have you refrained from choosing hairstyles that highlighted the unique coils of your black hair?
There is no shame in answering yes to either question. At the end of the day, black women have had to do what was necessary to survive in spaces not created by people of color.
According to a study done by Michigan State University, “80 percent of African American women felt they needed to switch their hairstyle to align with more conservative standards in order to fit in at work.”
During a time when we are seeing such pride in our culture and our natural hair, it seems hard to believe that we are still fighting an external and sometimes internal battle to wear our natural hair in the workplace.
In 2022, why is natural hair still deemed unprofessional?
Over Coming Centuries of a Negative Mindset
From being forced to cover their natural hair in the 1700s to the invention of the hot comb in the early 1900s, a long-lasting narrative has been sold that natural black hair is unacceptable. Even after the civil rights movement, assimilation was advertised heavily in the 80s and 90s with commercials for relaxers.
Mixed Legal Results
While it is not uncommon for people to want to file lawsuits after being wronged, hair discrimination cases yield mixed verdicts. Hair discrimination cases have been filed for over 40 years, but the inconsistency in results hasn’t helped the movement.
Delayed and Slow Change
The Crown Act was signed in California in 2019. Since then, only 18 states have passed their own legislation as of the end of July 2022. The U.S. House of Representatives passed the bill at the federal level, but it has not been approved yet by the Senate.
Ultimately, we all want to be able to wear our hair how we desire and to be comfortable with that decision. Ideally, no one would work someplace that would deem their natural hair unprofessional.
If you are worried about wearing your natural hair to work, do some research. First, find out if there is a Crown Act-like law in your state.
Read your company’s handbook in regards to office appearances. Employers can have an expectation of “neat” or “work appropriate” appearances. However, be mindful of specific wording, such as the banning of hairstyles specific to a particular race.
Be proud of whatever hairstyle you choose to wear to work. If your employer cannot respect your hair decisions, maybe it is time to reconsider if it is truly an environment that will allow you to grow professionally and personally.
At J. Antoinette 1927, we strive to help our customers feel pride in their crowns and to help your hair flourish no matter the style. Our products will help give you the confidence you need to wear your hair naturally in and out of the office.