Curls in the Corporate World: Own it No Matter the Setting
The corporate world is interesting in how much of a power trip it is. As most of us know, this world is dominated by men, white men at that. Don't get me wrong, the progression women and people of color have made in demanding integration and making their way up the totem pole is impeccable. Considering, the major obstacles they have had to face, mainly because of sexism and racism within the work place.
I consider myself lucky, to be in a space and time where women are bosses and people of color are owning their own businesses that are flourishing and becoming house hold names. But, one subject, that to this day still presents a problem to some corporate offices is... hair. Now, I could divulge into a full on rant about how many times I have been poked, prodded and questioned by white people, about my hair, especially in the work place. Throughout college, I held different jobs and internships in corporate settings and as I went about my hair journey the comments and questions followed me.
I am a person who makes it their mission to remain true to themselves and that includes in the corporate setting. You want me to put on my business casual fit, I gotchu. You want me to throw on some heels and look the part, (I'm going to pout about it for a minute or two) but I gotchu. But, as soon as you tell me or suggest that maybe I "tame my hair" or try a more "suitable style for the work place" that, my dear, is where we have got a problem.
The quality of my work and professionalism has nothing to do with the hair that grows from my head. I can provide the same great content with my hair out as I can with my hair in a bun. Debatably better work, honestly, because my head isn't in pain from the 89 bobby pins stabbing my scalp or the 7 hair ties holding my bun in place. I've always wondered how the complex began and who came up with the ideals that work spaces needed to be so uptight for success to be possible. Then again, who am I, but a millenial woman of color whose identities have historically and systematically been excluded from spaces like these.
I say all of this to provoke a conversation within your work places and challenge the people who tell you that you should present yourself a certain way to be taken seriously. Professionalism and work ethic are a part of character not physical presentation. Dress the part, sure, I'm not telling you to walk into work like you just rolled out of bed but don't be intimidated by the Susans and Bobs of the world telling you that your curls, kinks and coils don't "look professional" (this is where the power trip reference comes in).
When people demean you in that manner and you allow it, you are giving them power over you, and damnit if they won't capitalize off of that power. Your hair is not a distraction nor is it a source of entertainment for your counterparts and it shouldn't matter that it defies gravity or spirals down your back, that's what makes you beautiful and unique. You are in your place of employment to excel in whatever the hell you were hired to do. So do it and do it well, that is all.
- A Sunflower