Your Hair doesn’t fit the company’s aesthetic. I’m sure I’m not the only one who’s heard this before and I probably won’t be the last. Back when I was around 20 or 21, I was working at a retail store on 34 street. At the time, I used to wear my hair up in a natural ponytail a lot since I didn’t really know how to style my natural hair just yet. One day while I was at work, a few of my co-workers came up to me to give me a heads up that management wanted to talk to me about my hair. Clearly, this conversation by itself should have been an HR issue since management should not be going up to my co-workers and asking them if they would be comfortable enough to talk to me about my hair. Anyway, long story short, my managers brought me into their office to tell me that my hair doesn’t fit the company’s aesthetic.
I remember thinking to myself how is that possible? I dress like the brand and there were other employees who wore their hair the same as I did but the only difference was their hair texture. Not only that but if we really want to get technical here our mannequins were bald, so really no one’s hair fit the company aesthetic.
Feeling completely disrespected, I went to the General Manager to get a further explanation on why my hair didn’t fit the company’s brand. Sadly, what she told me was worse than what the floor managers told me. She told me that my hair looked unkempt, adding insult to injury by adding that I looked like I rolled out of bed and just went to work. What made it worse was she made a comparison between her hair and mine. I was literally looking at her like I was in the twilight zone because here is a woman with naturally fine straight hair [1A type] telling me that when she gets up out of bed and doesn’t comb her hair it looks sort of messy like mine. I went home that day livid and spoke with my parents about the incident because I couldn’t believe what just happened to me.
As a kid, my parents made sure I knew my natural hair was beautiful and that I didn’t have to conform to what society felt black hair should look like. However, to my surprise, they basically told me that this is what corporate America is like when it comes to black women wearing their natural hair. Even though my mother knew what they said was wrong since she had experienced something similar herself with another company because of her dreadlocks. That night, my mom straightened my hair because she didn’t want me to have any issues with management the following day. I went into work the next day and management had apologized to me then told me my hair looked nice today. This was one of my experiences and how I learned the business world’s reaction to black hair.
So I know at one point we all wanted to have straight hair or soft roots or even silky long wavy hair. I remember when we as women just wanted to have anybody else’s hair type but our own since we thought theirs was more malleable, curlier, longer or just better than what we have on our heads. Do you guys remember when every magazine, billboard, television series, and/or music video (hereinafter as the industry or entertainment) mainly had women with silky long hair types? For example, the movie This Christmas and Beauty Shop had mainly an all-Black Cast where all of the leading ladies like Regina Belle, Lauren London, Sharon Leal, Queen Latifah, and Golden Brooks, all had long straight hair. You know back then [i.e the early 2000s and up until recently ] producers, completely forgot that women came in all shapes, hair types, and textures.
I mean let’s be serious, a lot of the time, women in the industry were either Black, White, or Hispanic women with long hair hanging down their back. Now, I don’t know about you but unless my hair is straight, it’s not hanging down my back and it’s definitely not 16-30 inches long like some of these women the industry was putting out there. It’s curly, thick, voluminous, and nothing like what we saw on television. This was clearly society’s way of letting us know whose hair type was considered beautiful and whose was considered the pits.
For goodness sake, if Chris Rock went as far as putting out Good Hair, in order to save his daughter’s perception of their natural hair beauty. We as a society clearly did not portray all hair types as beautiful. For example, do you guys remember the scene when Chis Rock was trying to sell Malaysian, Indian, and Black hair on the side of the road? All of the Indian & Malaysian hair was accepted but nobody wanted to buy the Black hair because it wasn’t looked at as beautiful. Hell, the Asian man tried to sell him straight hair as kinky hair. “Like Whatttt, in what world would that be the same???”
Plus if we bring corporate America into this conversation then I’m sure you and I can go for days on the comments we used to hear about our natural hair being out. Just think about it! Women who wore their hair natural to work, corporate events or even school would sometimes be told their hair either looked unkempt, ethnic, messy, or a distraction. You all may not agree or relate to this but as a Black woman, I know for me and my fellow African American sisters, we can at least recollect one instance of which a slick comment was mentioned about our natural hair being left out.
Natural hair or being aesthetically natural back then was not something that was widely accepted or looked at as beautiful. Women were looking at other women with completely different hair types for inspiration on what to do with their hair. I’m sure we all done it or know someone who has. I’ve done texturizers, blown out my hair, straightened my hair, and even wore weave to change my hair texture to look like what society said was atheistically pleasing at that time.
Hell at one point and even still today, women are still spending hundreds of dollars on closures, bundles, sew-ins, and lace fronts, etc. just so they can have that “Long Hair Don’t Care” attitude. Since we all may have a different meaning on what the “Long Hair Don’t Care Attitude is, here is my take on it. ” To have a “Long Hair Don’t Care Attitude means to have a confidence booster as a result of your hair being done at a certain length and silky enough to put your finger through it.
The person I am referring to when I mention this phrase is usually someone who is already confident in herself. However, once she gets that 16 -30 inch weave, it’s like her confidence is raised from being an 8 out of 10 to a 100 out of 10. It’s like the 16-30 inch weave gives her a new identity or enhances her look to the point where she looks in the mirror and says damn I look good. Hair nice, silhouette nice, the whole 9 yards.
Fast Forward to around 2017-2018 with social media outlets like Snapchat, Instagram, and TikTok, allowing women to share the most intimate parts of their lives by documenting their stories like the “Big Chop” or facing discrimination as a result of their hair. Women are now starting to reclaim their natural hair beauty. Not only did we start dropping the weaves, but we also started looking into making natural DIY products to enhance our natural texture, improve breakage and stimulate hair growth.
The “Long Hair Don’t Care Attitude Movement has turned into the Natural Me movement. We as women are the ones who control our hair destiny and how we feel what beauty is supposed to be. Society had to learn how to accept the natural you and me, so it’s time for us to continue to stand up and show our natural hair beauty.
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