Is Natural Hair Unprofessional?

The natural hair movement is taking the world by storm, however it still has yet to be accepted in the corporate world. I’m seeing this issue come up more and more in the African-American community. The most prominent story I can think of is Hamton University’s Business School instituting a ban on dreadlocks. You can read more about that here.

I have a friend who’s in accounting that is transitioning into natural hair. I asked her why she didn’t just braid her hair until it was long enough to wear on its own. She told me it would be considered unprofessional for her to wear braids.

Personally, I work in somewhat of an office environment but fortunately the dress code at my job is pretty lenient. They don’t have any problems with me (or anyone else) wearing natural hair however the thought of perhaps changing jobs scares me bit. If I decide to move into corporate America will my hair be a problem?

I think it’s unfair to deem natural hair unprofessional. I hate to play the race card yet again but I have to give my honest opinion here. The corporate world is dominated by white males so in order to be accepted among these white males we have to conform to their standards of beauty. Most white women don’t have to damage their hair to get it bone straight because that’s how it naturally grows. For me as a black woman in order to get my hair like that I’d have resort to all sorts of unhealthy styling techniques that may very well result in my hair falling out. The other alternative would be to just not wear my own hair at all (in other words get a weave or wear a wig).

Why should I have to damage my hair by altering its natural state just to make these white men comfortable? Wearing my hair natural doesn’t make me a Black Panther. Wearing my hair natural doesn’t mean I hate white people. I’m not trying to make some radical political statement with my hair. I’m just chosing not to alter the natural state of my hair. Is that a crime?

Don’t get me wrong I understand that appearance and dress codes are important in a professional environment. I’m just arguing that black women (and men) chosing to wear their hair in its natural state doesn’t compromise their professional look.

To address the Hampton University controversy specifically, I think it’s unfortunate that a HBCU is further perpetuating the stigma attached to natural hair. The whole purpose of the natural hair movement is to allow black women to just be themselves without feeling any pressure to look a certain way. I would’ve hoped an establishment build to help uplift young black people would understand that.

What do you think. Does natural hair have any place in the corporate world?


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