Should Natural Hair be Banned from the Workplace?

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Natural hair can be defined as hair whose texture hasn’t been altered by chemical straighteners, including relaxers and texturizers. Many women have always preferred to wear natural hair instead of getting perms but many African Americans have recently taken the initiative to embrace their natural hair. The natural hair movement is focused on encouraging women with African ancestry to celebrate and enjoy the natural characteristics of their kinky, curly, hair texture. Even though African American women have become more comfortable wearing their natural hair, some workplaces feel it isn’t appropriate.

The Perception Institute released the results of their 2016 study confirming that black women with natural hair experience bias in the workplace. The ‘Good Hair’ study, inspired by Shea Moisture, affirmed what many black women already knew which was that natural hair can be a career liability. White collar jobs such as accountants, news reporters or real estate agents are the types of jobs where African American women face problems and are ridiculed for wearing their natural hair. Business professionals are told to wear their hair well groomed, which is assumed by African American women to be straightened. News reporters are unable to wear their natural hair because it changes the “look” that viewers are accustomed to or it draws too much attention.  As for some African American actresses, they must do their own hair if they are natural before arriving to the set because the hair team is unable to service them. Doctors also experience criticism from patients because the patients complain about wanting someone well groomed or properly trained.

Some women in jobs such as teachers, sales associates or self-owned businesses have less complications or judgment by customers or managers when wearing their natural hair. These women can wear the puff or pineapple worn by African American natural women and several other natural hairstyles. Even though women are facing complications to embrace their natural hair, some women use techniques to prevent causing confusion on the job. Wearing your hair straightened, similar to permed hair or wearing a wig on the interview and converting to natural hair once you have the job is a technique that has worked for some women, nevertheless, some women have been questioned about their “new appearance” when they reveal their natural hair months later by managers. Also, women can wear a low sleek bun to prevent their natural hair from being as “big.”

Even though physical appearance should be well groomed on the job, natural hair shouldn’t be banned from the workplace because it doesn’t hinder the worker from effectively performing on the job nor does it harm the patient, customer or client. It is the 21st century, therefore, women should no longer have to hide their physical features to please others. Forcing someone to conceal their hair is diminishing a person’s self esteem and causes them to feel out of place by faking to be someone else to keep a job they are well qualified for. However, African American women are constantly making the adjustments necessary to look pleasing or the way their managers think they should to keep the company’s brand positive even though it is unfair. Despite a woman having kinky or curly natural hair, she shouldn’t be forced to straighten her hair or wear alternative styles to keep a job she has earned neither should people on the job lose respect for her or discriminate against her.

RaShunda Veals is a Sophomore Broadcast/Mass Communications major from Woodville, Mississippi. She will be a contributor for The Campus Chronicle for the 2017-2018 school year.

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