True Life: I Wear an Unconventional Natural Hair Style to Work

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By Patricia Carroll (pictured above)

I’ve been natural for a long time but when my stylist and friend died of cancer I didn’t want anyone else to do my hair. A close sister friend of mine was battling cancer around the same time, so when she cut her hair off I did too. I work in the news/entertainment business as a technician so I didn’t think twice about the styles I would get. I wasn’t comfortable with the look at first, so after a few mishaps I found a great barber and started to get designs. I wanted something funky, cool and different with easy maintenance, and the short cut provides that.

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My hair styles are well received at work, I’ve never had an issue, I’m always getting compliments. I’ve covered several high end events in my career. There was one occasion when I had to travel for work, at the time I was rocking a flower painted in my hair. I asked my supervisor if it was okay to travel and represent the company with the cut. His response was, “Sure no problem.” After being told early in my career that I couldn’t wear any natural hair styles trying to make it in the radio/TV business, I feel extremely lucky to work in a profession and an environment that allows and appreciates natural hair.

Ladies, do you rock unconventional styles to work? Share your photos and experiences!

Patricia’s hair was cut and styled by Morono Hodge of Washington, DC and Fred (da barber) Rainey of Capital Heights, MD.

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Black Girl With Long Hair

Black Girl With Long Hair

Leila, founding editor of Black Girl with Long Hair (April 2008), social media and black beauty enthusiast. When I'm not here, I'm moderating a Facebook group for black mothers called Black Moms Connect.

 
  • aree

    You know the previous article about natural hair in the work place, along with experiences online users post, I admit I became a little worried about when, where, and how to wear my hair.

    I am not knocking anyone’s experience, but not everyone is paying attention to our hair. In some areas our hair may be uncommon but a lot of people seem to over think situations and comments, thus turning something small into something big when it’s actually not. If you are looking for haters you’re going to find them.

    Sorry for the rambling. It was just nice to read a good experience. With all the negative ones being posted it could make someone think twice about their decision to go natural.

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    • LBell

      THANK YOU. I couldn’t agree more.

      Now how long do you think it’ll take before somebody comes in here and starts making excuses for this woman’s hairstyle? “Well, she’s not working in [this industry]…she can’t wear that hair in [this environment]…”

      I am so OVER black women holding themselves back over this subject, I can’t tell you. I keep saying this and I’m going to say it again: No, not every natural hairstyle is appropriate for every workplace…but that doesn’t mean you can’t find one that is.

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      • Vanessa

        “No, not every natural hairstyle is appropriate for every workplace…but that doesn’t mean you can’t find one that is.”

        Well said my friend. A lot of women really need to here that revelation. I am the only African-American female at my place of work. That being so, I have to be careful what hairstyles etc I do to my hair. I get experimental with my hair (i do a lot of funky hairstyles and experiment with color). However, I do realize that if I do a style that is too crazy, or try a color that is too much, I can easily look like veer into looking like a stereotype. So, in harmony with what you said, I experiment with caution. One thing that works in my favor, though, is the fact that I work in the fashion industry, so the parameters of caution are a little bit free-er than that of someone in a corporate environment.
        [img]http://blackgirllonghair.com/wp-content/uploads/2013/08/248048_10151587431467378_1932814849_n.jpg[/img]

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        • cacey

          wow your hair is amazing. pretty and the color works well!

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    • Liz

      I agree! People used to tell me to try and tame my afro before job interviews, etc. I never listened and have never had a problem getting good jobs in professional office settings. Love the positive spin this article places on being natural in the workplace. :)

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    • BrinkyDinks

      I agree. I actually think my natural hair has helped me get jobs because it makes me stand out from the crowd. People actually get disappointed when I say I’m going to straighten my hair, and these comments tend to come from non-blacks. I think as long as you are confident in your hair or hairstyle it will usually be fine. I actually had an employer tell me how to wear my hair once when I had it relaxed. I told her when she starts paying to get my hair done she can tell me how to wear it. She never bothered me after that.

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  • sherryb

    I love it on June, it was time was a change so I got a cut. Some call it a mohawk but I call it a sharkfin.
    [img]http://blackgirllonghair.com/wp-content/uploads/2013/08/Image2013-07-07.jpeg[/img]
    [img]http://blackgirllonghair.com/wp-content/uploads/2013/08/PhotoGrid_1375368599929.jpg[/img]

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    • Coco

      Omg, sharkfin. xD I love it!

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    • sherryb

      Corrections
      I love it. On June 1, it was time for a change so I got a cut.

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    • Unque43

      Love your sharkfin

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    • Unque43

      Not only natural hairstyle is appropriate in some work places, but their are some relaxed hairstyles that are not appropriate. I am sure that if you are in a workplace that is conservative you must be somewhat conservative to have gotten the job in the first place. If you work where as your style is free than do you. This is just not an issue. Even with natural hair you can be you. I don’t know why people are making a issue out of the natural hair thing. No matter relaxed, natural or whatever, keep in clean, healthy and appropriate for your chosen career. Me I love natural at this time in my life. Just do you, because you have natural hair don’t mean you got to look bad. This is what I was born with and I love it, but I also loved my hair when it was relaxed. I like it when it was long, I cut it and I loved it when it was short. In my profession I wear it neat, I get compliments as I did when I wore it relaxed. I just wish some people would stop making a big deal out of it.

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    • Alwina

      Beautiful! Work it!

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  • PMS

    I’m jealous. I work for a healthcare organization and the hair policy is clearly defined. No wiggle room whatsoever. :(

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    • Rebe A

      Wow I am surprised to hear that about healthcare. I am a clinician and I’ve never had any guidelines imposed about hair. I’ve been at it 16 years and have work at 10 different hospitals from NY to LA. Are you in administration, or maybe pharma sales?

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    • Alycia

      What kind of restrictions do you have? Just curious :)

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  • FMR

    I love it. I’ve worked in corporate for about 15 years now, and I am OVAH it. Time to reclaim myself, which includes re-piercing my nose and dying my locks whatever color I wish. You have only one life to live. Don’t spend it kowtowing to the standards of those who will never walk in your shoes, whether you have a relaxer or not.

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  • Guest1234

    Whew! THANK YOU FOR SHARING! I was getting so sick of all the fearful hand-wringing about how we’ll end up on welfare and never find employment if we don’t twist, coil, relax, texturize, slick or spend an ungodly amount of time changing who we are. I have heard enough of the drama about the natural hair boogeyman who will come in the night and steal our homes and leave us penniless on welfare. The one thing I can’t stand is ridiculous hysteria. Thank you for adding a voice of reason. There are more than enough sensible work environments for black women. Get control over your fears, ladies. It will rob you of your life, time, sanity, happiness and soul every time.

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    • Vanessa

      Natural hair boogeyman lol. I love it;-)

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  • http://bglh kris

    I work for a law firm and i wear my hair natural as well as more than half the black women in my office. No one even bats an eyelash when i wear wash and gos or whatever style i choose. But i must say i know im lucky bc every place of business is not so accommodating to Natural hair, but I’m thankful that my firm is.

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  • Laney

    I can appreciate that some people work in very conservative environments. However, just because you and another person work in the same field, it doesn’t mean that you work in the same kind of environment with/for the same kinds of people. I’m sure that working at Dell vs Apple is a different experience with one probably being more conservative than the other yet they’re both in the same industry. Ergo, your experience is not everyone’s experience because that other article did assume too much. We all live and work in different environments and while some may swear twist outs and fros will end their working life in a certain industry, another person may work in the same field in a less conservative environment wearing any given natural style. Geography does play a part in this too.

    I think if employers have a problem with your hair at an interview and you’re wearing your hair a certain way that you like, you need to consider what it may be like working within that organisation. If you need a job, you need a job but that doesn’t mean every workplace is going to have the same view of your hair. I resented the previous article asking us to beat our hair into submission to get a job or be damned. Most employers are looking at your cv/resume and seeing if you’re up to the job. Sometimes it’s easier to say it was something you can’t change that cost you a job than to really look at your credentials and how you present yourself in an interview situation.

    In the end we’re individuals with our own experiences to go through and if you know that the geographical area you are in and the field in that geographical area is a certain way I.e super conservative then you would be better off doing a pulled back style or updo because if you’ve researched the organisations you’ve applied to and conservatism is the way then you have to tow that line to get your job. No one thinks you should wear a fro hawk in that instance. I think that article just assumed one size fits all which is not the case.

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  • http://www.twitter.com/taiwolovepeace Taiwo

    cool.

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  • Aelicia DeLovely

    I love the hair!!!! The way that I express myself where I work is by my crazy hair colors. Right now its gray and platinum and I wouldn’t change it for the world. I believe as long as a person is up for the job and does the job properly hair should not be an issue.
    [img]http://blackgirllonghair.com/wp-content/uploads/2013/08/me2.jpg[/img]

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  • Tom

    You go!!!GIRL I LIKE IT!!!!RNATURALLLL GIRL!!!

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  • Mia

    Awesome hairstyle!! Yes natural hair is never a hindrance to the workplace, unless we tell ourselves otherwise, and thus we make it so.

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  • Amber

    I think that it depends on where exactly you work. Like in corporate where suits are worn and business attire is a must at all times, you can’t go into the work place with different colors of hair.

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  • Meg

    I actually think the flower is tacky. I like the other styles though.

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  • Selah

    At my first job out of college, I wore wigs over my locs because I already knew that my hair wouldn’t be accepted. But as someone else stated, I needed a job so I dealt with it until I gained enough experience/skills to apply to my now current job.

    At my interview, I had marley twists installed over my locs. I pulled it up into a bun, threw on a headband (no time for a retwist) and went into the interview. Killed it and got hired. I had the marley twists in for about 2 weeks after starting then took them out.

    Everyone though I cut my hair (I’m the only Black girl working here). My supervisor even commented saying she liked my hair and that she thinks shorter hair on women is more flattering. I did not bother to correct any of them because it would simply be too confusing to make them understand that the twists hasn’t been my hair to begin with.

    Anyways, it’s been over a month and no one has commented about my locs. And I do work in a somewhat conservative office (pencil skirt, blazer, heels, the whole nine yards). I don’t think I would be brave enough to dye my hair a certain color though.

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  • Alwina

    Thanks for sharing! Beautiful hair cut!

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  • shelikes

    freedom looks good on these ladies. i wear my hair pretty typically, because i am not really an outgoing person and dont like unsolicited looks and comments.

    i dont even wear color and it seems like all the time people are commenting on my hair both positively and negatively and id just really not like to have to deal with it.

    i love living vicariously through these creative women. wishing for more pictures.

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