The Two Major Challenges Black Women Face In The Workplace

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A major challenge for black women in the workplace is surrounded by the pressure to straighten their hair and how to wear it for an interview. We’ve all heard the comment “Your hair would look so good straight”. I don’t know about you but this backwards compliment can come from anyone but especially coworkers. I know they mean well but it leaves you questioning does my hair not look good in its natural state?

In 2017, Perception Institute conducted the “Good Hair Study” which found that black women suffered anxiety twice as much as white women about feeling pressured to straighten their hair at the workplace. This pressure starts before you even get the job. As you are preparing to land the job of your dreams your focus should be on figuring out what to wear and the responses to the questions – but for naturals it can be more difficult. Even if you are years into your natural hair journey there are still some who intentionally straighten their hair for the interview. In hopes it will make us appear more marketable for the job. Many women [in the study] said after the interview they questioned their decision and left feeling like a “sell out”. To feel better they tell themselves straight hair is for the interview and natural hair styles once they get the job. Even as someone who does not straighten their hair I can still relate to this feeling. When going on interviews I often put my hair in a low bun. This a very cute style but it is now called my “interview bun”.

It is a shame in 2018 we are still fearful that our natural hair is not professional enough to land the job. We are still left comparing our beauty to europeans standards. With Naturals like Tracee Ellis Ross, Solange and Yara Shahidi who grace the covers of magazines continue to make strides for the community change is on the way. After years of many black women advocating for themselves the U.S Navy changed their policy. The changes to the uniform policy allow variety of options for wearing our hair. The power of our voices brought about change and we can not stop here. As naturals continue to wear their styles proudly we are riding these challenges. My advice to you is next time you are up for that job interview rock your natural tresses. When a co worker comments about your hair looking “so good” if it was straight simply reply with a smile “my hair already looks so good curly”.