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Over the past decade nat­u­ral hair has grown in pop­u­lar­i­ty among the under-30 black female crowd. Many of us have decid­ed to step away from relax­ers and bone-straight hair in favor of quenched and defined curls. Although, it’s “just hair”, it can’t be ignored that we’re tak­ing part of a piv­otal moment in his­to­ry. But how do the­se changes affect our pro­fes­sion­al lives? We are still occa­sion­al­ly stopped in our tracks and faced with oth­er people’s igno­rance and cru­el­ty, which is why it’s an unspo­ken rule in many black homes not to show up to job inter­views or work with big hair, braids and even locs in some cas­es.

In May 2012 I worked as a den­tal assis­tant for two Rus­sian den­tists. I arrived to work a bit ear­ly on this par­tic­u­lar day and instead of the com­pact bun that I usu­al­ly wore, I donned an afro pony­tail because I hadn’t got­ten the chance to put my hair up and my first patient wasn’t set to arrive for anoth­er 30 min­utes. Almost imme­di­ate­ly after I removed my sec­ond arm from my jack­et I was met with laugh­ter, fol­lowed by “You look like one of those…what do you call them? The dolls with the hair…a troll doll baby!”. Not 10 min­utes after that occurred, I was pulled aside by the less will­ing to joke and more stern den­tist who told me “you have to wear your hair orga­nized”. This took place in front of oth­er employ­ees and was quite embar­rass­ing. That would not be the first time I had con­tem­plat­ed mak­ing it my last day. Instead, humil­i­at­ed, I twist­ed my puff and put my hair in the bun as I had intend­ed to before I was tag teamed by the Black hair police.

My opin­ion on nat­u­ral hair in the work­place is this; If your hair gets in the way of you com­plet­ing your work, then it should be clipped up and away from the face so that you can work effi­cient­ly. I also prac­tice what I call “nat­u­ral hair eti­quet­te” so that if my hair phys­i­cal­ly gets in the way of some­one, let’s say at a movie the­atre or train, then I’d glad­ly move it out of the way. But it seems wide­ly accept­ed that you must appear ‘harm­less’ or unpo­lit­i­cal in order to be suc­cess­ful or main­tain employ­ment, so much so that I’ve had wom­en come up and tell me of all the suc­cess­es I could have if I straight­ened my hair, and how much nicer I’d look. But why is nat­u­ral hair — the hair that grows out of my head — seen as polit­i­cal, ‘edgy’ or dan­ger­ous in the first place. I have always worn my hair straight­ened or in a com­pact bun while search­ing for work and I’ve even removed braids to look for work as well. But is it right? Am I let­ting the neg­a­tive ide­als of oth­ers deter­mine my behav­ior? And is chang­ing my hair­style a fair price to pay for suc­cess?

For more of Domineque check her out on Insta­gram: lhd­c2011 and YouTube, Long­hair­dont­care2011.

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215 Comments on "True Life: My Boss Criticized My Natural Hair in Public"

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Sheen

R.I.P.
You were an inspi­ra­tion <3

Mary in Md
Domineque, you will tru­ly be missed. I came to this arti­cle pri­mar­i­ly to just have a glimpse of all the inspi­ra­tion you have pro­vid­ed for me. With respect to the arti­cle, I get far more pos­i­tive feed back from non blacks than blacks. My moth­er and sis­ters are always telling me how much they want to see my hair straight­ened. I have noth­ing again­st straight­ened hair. It’s just that it’s time con­sum­ing and not some­thing that I feel par­tic­u­lar­ly moved to do. I also don’t look for­ward to all of the pres­sure that will fol­low about how much “bet­ter” my… Read more »
Bev Willis

You were a trail­blaz­er and still and inspi­ra­tion. May you rest in peace my dear sis­ter.

taylor

beau­ti­ful hair child

Refilwe Felicia Molusi
Refilwe Felicia Molusi

Rest in Peace Sis Dominique. 

In South Africa, the youth is gen­er­al­ly “Amer­i­can­ised” in the sense that a lot of west­ern cul­ture over­rules African Cul­ture. But read­ing this arti­cle I have nev­er been more glad to live here. Wear­ing our hair nat­u­ral or in braids can nev­er be deemed unpro­fes­sion­al nor dis­tract­ing. Instead it’s just viewed as just anoth­er hair Style. In fact your Rus­sion boss could be is issued with a fine for say­ing that to you. Its dis­crim­i­na­tion . I sure hope things get bet­ter in your coun­try.

Nicole

If you a hired in let me tell you some­thing you need to hol­lar out to her boss..Harassment!!!!! and call a lawyer.

passiveagressiveshade
passiveagressiveshade

Rip beau­ti­ful

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