Normalize natural hairstyles

By BrenShavia Jordan | Reporter

“I have a job interview tomorrow, how should I wear my hair?”

I have met so many Black women who contemplate this question before an interview, business meeting or when starting something new. I personally wonder, “Why is it so hard to accept a woman who wants to wear her hair natural? What makes her stand out compared to someone with straight hair?”

Is it the texture? The fullness? The length?

It is hard for women to embrace themselves in a world that defines beauty without representing them. The stares a Black woman gets when she wears her big hair or the comments such as, “can I touch your hair?” are very uncomfortable. Why is natural hair not a normal thing? Why is it such a big deal? It should be normal to see a woman with natural hair or straight hair. A woman should be able to wear her hair how she chooses without the fear of discrimination.

When I was growing up, it was rare to see Black women in high positions with natural hairstyles. It was also nearly impossible to see a black woman on national television with an afro or braids. These types of styles were called things such as, “nappy” and “unprofessional.” Straight hair was the norm, and anything different was not accepted. There is now a new movement supporting making Black styles professional in the workplace, and I am here for it. It has been long overdue. It is inspiring for me as a Black woman with natural hair seeing women respected without the focus on their hairstyle. The texture of a person’s hair does not determine their work ethic, their character or their heart.

I was so happy when I heard about The Crown Act, “Creating a Respectful and Open World for Natural hair.” This coalition was created last year in an effort to prevent discrimination on race-based hairstyles in the workplace and public schools. According to the Crown Act, Black women are 1.5 times more likely to be sent home from the workplace because of their hair. California was the first state in 2019, signing the law into effect. Since then, New Jersey, Washington, Colorado, Virginia, New York and Maryland have passed the Crown Act law, and hopefully other states will join.

It is a beautiful thing for the younger generations to see this movement. I believe representation is very important in the eyes of little girls growing up. For a Black child to be able to flip on their TV on and see a Black woman with a natural hairstyle is inspiring. To see people who look just like them shows these younger generations they don’t have to change themselves to fit in or be successful. Hopefully, as they go through life they will never have to question, “How will I wear my hair today?” out of fear for being judged. I hope women of all ages know their hair is beautiful and it should be embraced.

“Being natural is not a statement, it is the closest I can get to being myself.” – Author Unknown