British Author on Black Hair in the Workplace

UK author Lola Jaye gets real about her relationship with her hair and examines how unconscious hair stereotypes develop in settings like the workplace. It's just hair, or is it?

lola jaye on black hair

And so began a relationship with my hair.

But what about our relationships with other people's hair? It's perhaps not a conscious process, but it's there and not least in the workplace.  In my novel, "By The Time You Read This," Lois, the main character dresses up for a date with one of her co-workers, desperate for him to see her as this sexy vixen outside of the office--as inside, she's deemed as a bit of a square. Cue, short black dress, make up and you guessed it... big hair. Gone, the "boring'"office girl from the previous pages, as she's reborn into that sexy chick she thinks he wants.

Friends of mine recently broached this subject and admitted to perpetuating the so-called office hair stereotype myths as they stood around the water cooler and copier machines in their place of work. Here are a handful:

Of course all three women probably have their own reasons for wearing their hair the way they do. In fact, the lady with the dreadlocks turned out not to be a Rastafarian--she just preferred wearing her hair in dreadlocks.  But as soon as she dared to cut them off, her colleague admitted feeling "let down" by this act, as her image and perception of her had changed. Huh? So, did cutting off her dreads mean she'd suddenly become someone else?

My office time used to be filled with "long hair days" thanks to the odd weave or braid (hmmm, I wonder what stereotype that induced?) but bursting in with my Afro brought words like "edgy" "natural" and "different" into conversations.  But my view is, although it is totally different to what I am used to, inside, I am still the same person (okay maybe a tiny bit more edgy!). 

Basically, you, I, the girl in the catering department, anyone, can rock any hairstyle as long as there's an abundance of inner confidence and hair swagger roaring from within! At least then, you'll get a fun stereotype!

Author's Note


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