This informally written spontaneous “tweet rant” was inspired by LIFE. :o)
Regarding #naturalhair …
Okay, I’m gonna tell ya’ll something. I will always be practical when it comes to maintenance & hair styling. Why? Mainly now because of time management but previously for professional reasons as well.
At this point in my life? I’m not even the leastbit concerned about “creative hairstyles”. All I care about is what I can realistically sustain. When it comes to #naturalhair I want the following:
1) A style that will hold up nicely;
2) A style that makes detangling/wash day easier;
3) A style that minimizes tangles and knots, which reduces hair breakage; and
4) A style that reflects who I am, NOT any current trends.
Because I’m thinking about this baby on the way, the home I have to maintain, the body I have to maintain (or rather, get back) & time for my husband. You, know? Real life priorities.
WHY BUSY HAIR-DOS ARE NOT MY THING
I am 35 yrs old. I don’t like “busy” looking hairdos. I don’t want or need my hair to be the center of attention. In fact, I don’t even like that. I guess you could say I prefer the more “conservative” hair styles. Hair styles that simply complement what I am wearing. Again, nothing too busy.
And dare I say? DARE I SAY? I also want hairstyle that reflects where I am socio-economically. What does this mean? lol. I’ll explain.
When I was a consultant for 7 years? Because I look much younger? I had to play down that youthfulness. Which by default means conservative clothing and hair style choices. Why? Because I couldn’t roll up in the business meeting wearing hairstyles that reminded my clients of their KIDS & expect them to PAY me a lot of money!
No, I didn’t want to and still don’t want to look like the chicks from the reality shows. Sorry. That includes (crazy) hair colors too. :-/
I know a lot of people are influenced by pop culture, hair shows, etc. That’s fine. Do your thang! :o) But don’t everexpect me to do so.
What some of you might call “boring” hairstyling has been my business strategy for years. I do not want to be confused for something I’m not. I’m NOT trying to stand out.
HAIRSTYLE BIASES EXISTS FOR ALL RACES
I don’t like when folks make “hair restrictions” & hair style biases a racial thing. Are you kidding me? White, asian, latina have “code” too! Over the past 20 yrs I’ve worked for over 100 American companies. (As a temp and later a business consultant) Let me tell you. I can walk into any corporation and tell you who the receptionist is, who the directors are, and point out the CEO.
Yes, sometimes just based on their appearance alone. I can guess where you rank in your company’s power hierarchy.
In fact, it is usually quite easy to figure out the hierarchy of white, asians and latinas, by their hairstyles and hair colors. As representatives of their companies, there are certain hairstyle trends that they must follow in order to be taken seriously.
If you don’t think the same thing goes for black women, then you are delusional. We are not exempt. The same appearance biases applies to us as well!
I tell people all the time. These biases exist in the professional world. Creative expression is not you right. Don’t like it? Work to become your own boss!
And believe. Its not just white folks who are judging your appearance & presentation! I think black folks are the quickest to assess you.
I came from areas some would call the hood. I know better. I know how it feels to be categorized. But I’m also not stupid. I get the game. And again, until you achieve some level of power or influence? You’re not changing a thing. You have no more control over this professionalconservative appearance bias than women of other races. So if the white chick in the office has to “tone it down” to be taken more seriously in the office? Meaning her hair cut & color? So do you. :-/
Why am I saying all of this? Because people keep getting me confused. Asking me why I don’t try this hairstyle, hair color or that. Uh, No. lol. Some po’ child thought I’d consider it an insult that my “librarian” hairstyle bun was too boring for her. Well guess what? It got me HERE.
I worked my conservative hairstyles & appearance to my advantage. Because “boring” ain’t bad when you want to convey “I’m smart, pay me WELL”.
So save your need for “creative expression” for the weekend! There’s a time and place for everything.
THE STORY OF TWO ”PET PROJECTS”
Its so amusing to me the way some people harp on principle alone & think certain aspects of business institutions are going to bend to them. Certainly, you can do whatever you what. Wear and color your hair however you desire. Absolutely. But don’t think for one sec there aren’t tradeoffs.
As a temp, back in the day? I’ve been the young receptionist. Receptionists do not set the trend for the Sr. Directors & CEOs. Reality Check! I’ve witnessed quite a few young white women (some without college degrees) get groomed literallyfor better paying jobs.
What do they call it? “Power hair cuts and color”. Look no further than any popular mainstream magazine if you doubt this.
I’ll tell you about two women. They both happen to be white.
One chick was hmm, how do I say this nicely? “Rural”. The other was just sloppy honestly. But the same high powered woman gave them makeovers! I don’t know what it is about some of these high level white businesswomen and makeovers! But they love it. LOL! They love grooming folks for better paying jobs.
Its like, these women were “pet projects”. I’m not kidding, okay? But in the end both of those women got jobs they probably barely qualified on paper to do.
Pet Project #1 “The Rural Woman”: One of the “pet projects” was previously an administrative assistant. How do I know? Because I was her replacement. She was magically transformed to office manager. Which meant better pay and a higher status. Keep in mind, this new job provided her with skills and work experience that she could take anywhere. This can’t be stressed enough. When you are promoted? It affects yourlifetime earnings and socio-economic status that you then pass down to your children.
So over the next few years? “Rural woman’s” salary probably doubled, possibly tripled. No lie.
Pet Project #2 “Sloppy to Refined”
And the other young white woman? The one I said was a little sloppy in appearance? OMG! Her makeover? She got totally “prepped out”. I mean from head to toe or rather hair to shoes. A job was actually created for the formerly sloppy, but now PREPPY white chick. And after a few years had passed, everyone just saw her as that preppy woman. She got so comfortable and confident in her new role and new look that we almost forgot where she came from!
So I literally witnessed the transformation of these two women. I saw them re-packaged and “branded” for better paying jobs. They needed new, upgraded, refined looks in order to be perceived suitable for their new roles. To convince other “higher-ups”, I guess. :-/ Bottomline? Appearance matters.
And Kim Love was taking notes. Okay? LOL. ;o)
And the lesson was this: A HUGE part of the better paying job is looking the part. As they say, dress for the job you want. HAIR to toe.
So please don’t think appearance bias in hair and wardrobe only affects black women. This is simply not true.
WHAT ARE “PROFESSIONAL” STYLES? HERE A FEW GOOD RULES OF THUMB
I’ve had #naturalhair since 1997. Basically, my entire career. Having natural hair has never held me back. Because it was all in how I STYLED it.
* Do I think an afro PUFF alone is unprofessional? Nope. But an afro puff combined with some braids or flat twists on each side? Yup! Too busy. My rule for more professional, conservative office-friendly hairstyles?Only ONE hairstyle at a time. Not a combo salad of a bunch of stuff. Weekend or after hours style!
* I think the hairstyles black women wear on @CNN (or anchors) or Congresswomen are also a good rule of thumb. Why? Because folks of all race/ethnicities are used to seeing these hairstyles. They become professional norms.
* Folks are used to seeing black women wearing extension braids in NATURAL looking hair color dark brown (sorry not blond or any other creative coloring).
* Folks are also used to seeing locs too. But not free form kind. <—Creative NYC advertising agencies? Sure. But not typical corporate world.
Last thought. Don’t think for one sec hairstyle / biases rule do not apply to women with relaxed or wigs. Ombre coloring may be the trend, but I guarantee you no top level (read: higher paid) women in the office will be sporting the ombre color look. Again, there’s time and place for everything.
Since I used to travel a lot to different companies in different states? I usually defaulted to my conservative hairstyles. I call it “smart, strategic conformity”.
I was constantly meeting new clients. And in most cases, we had not met beforehand because all of the meeting planning occurred over the phone. So when they finally met me in person? My look had to match the professionalism I conveyed over the phone. As a hired consultant? I represented their companies too!
Remember this: When you OWN the company? When you are the boss? Dowatchulike. But until then? You don’t set the rules or trends.
Me? I played by the rules. I made my money, so that I can run my own show and do whatever I want. But I earned that right. I paid my dues. Creative freedom ain’t free.