The Perception of 'Professional Hair' Is An Obstacle For Many Black Women

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Sad but true. 

Natural hair may be beautiful, freeing and here to stay, but the perception of it being “unprofessional” in the workplace is a realty for far too many women of color, namely black women.

Last week, a viral tweet brought to light a Google search result for “unprofessional hairstyles for work” where the vast majority of hairstyles were of black women with natural hair. While this belief is not unheard of, this damning reality of what many black women face when job hunting or staying professional while at work is still relevant and problematic. 

Not to be overlooked when a Google search for “professional” hairstyles is sought, the results are of white, straight-haired blond women. This bias makes for serious conversations for black women on how to wear their hair. Natural hair is not unprofessional but far too many industries do not agree and why we are seeing more women being sent home or let go for rocking the natural tresses they were born with. 

As if just finding a job wasn’t hard enough, black women just starting out in the workforce are facing hair obstacles with the growing numbers celebrating and embracing natural hair.

Ayana Lindsey, a senior at Spelman College in Atlanta, told TakePart: “When we’re preparing for job interviews and career fairs, some professors and career-planning advisers will strongly suggest that girls who normally wear their hair natural opt for straighter hair to appeal to the most conservative of employers”. 

Tiaira Muhammad, a University of Southern California sophomore shared with TakePart: “When I apply for internships when I have twists, I would worry how the interviewers would see me. I definitely wouldn’t consider wearing my natural hair. It’s really disheartening. I can count the number of black women journalists with natural hair on one hand.”

From filing lawsuits to unfair practices to wearing wigs to confirm to finding industries where natural hair is accepted, black woman are facing real obstacles that make for yet another ugly stab at black beauty.

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Filed under: Hair