Seek­ing to spark a dis­cus­sion on self expres­sion and accept­abil­i­ty in cor­po­rate cul­ture, pho­tog­ra­ph­er Endia Beal has launched a pho­to series called “Can I Touch It”. For the series, Beal select­ed white mid­dle-aged women, sent them to a black salon to get their hair done, then put them in cor­po­rate attire and took her pho­tos.

“I want­ed peo­ple that had a cer­tain idea of what you’re sup­posed to look like in the work­space, because it would be a chal­lenge for them to under­stand what I expe­ri­enced in that space. And to a degree, many young white women have shared that expe­ri­ence, but for old­er white women it’s an expe­ri­ence they haven’t nec­es­sar­i­ly had,” Beal shared.


The pho­to series was inspired by Beal’s expe­ri­ence work­ing in the IT depart­ment at Yale, where her big, red afro gen­er­at­ed atten­tion from her most­ly white, male co-work­ers.


Slate Mag­a­zine has an awe­some write up on the pho­to series. You can find it here. Ladies, I’d love to hear your thoughts!

Black Girl With Long Hair

Leila Noel­liste, founder of Black Girl with Long Hair (April 2008). Social media, pop cul­ture and black beau­ty enthu­si­ast. bell hooks’ hair twin…

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90 Comments on "Photo Series Shows Corporate White Women in Braid, Twist and Curly Styles"

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Coconut + Cream


Uhm… O…Kay?

The Natural Haven
To be per­fect­ly hon­est­ly I am a lit­tle dis­ap­point­ed with the artist. In my view nat­ur­al hair is exact­ly that, allow­ing your hair to grow and be show­cased as it is. None of these styles are par­tic­u­lar­ly flat­ter­ing to any of these women. Fur­ther­more, there are very few pro­fes­sion­al women in their mid 40s who are black who would wear these styles which leads me to the con­clu­sion that this is an artis­tic con­cept with­out a sol­id thought and per­haps for the sake of gen­er­at­ing talk and con­tro­ver­sy. A more artis­tic con­cept in my view would have been to show… Read more »
@JC. Hon­est­ly, I think you put more thought and care into your response than the “artist” put into this entire project. I have the same issue with this that I do with the “You Can Touch My Hair” exhib­it and the Cat­suit Project- it is artis­ti­cal­ly lazy and sole­ly done for con­tro­ver­sy. Noooo pro­fes­sion­al black woman would wear these styles, none ever, and as I look around my office I see sev­er­al heads black heads of relax­ers, wigs, full afros, curly fros, twist outs, and braids but none of the styles exhib­it­ed above. Did the artist do any research or… Read more »

U r so ryt. And those r great ques­tions. Espe­cial­ly no 3. Wot the heck is the pur­pose of this piece of art­work? This is just sad


I don’t get it…seems like an ill-con­ceived joke…at our expense. I could be wrong, but it just looks that way to me.


I real­ly don’t get wot she was try­ing to achieve. Just looks like bored peeps with a bad hair day :s


The face on the lady I the sec­ond pic­ture is hilar­i­ous!! Man I can’t stop laugh­ing at her face and ridicu­lous hair-do!!! Lol

Nappy 4C Rocks

*sigh* why?


I think the braid­ed on the side look is more of a funky (in a good way!) hair­do even for black women, so I’m not sure this is what a cor­po­rate black woman would wear to work. I have curly haired white friends who don’t wear their hair out/down to work for fear of it being “unpro­fes­sion­al” too, so there’s a wider group involved in this par­tic­u­lar aspect. I always tell them that it’s because our hair is so gor­geous it’s dis­tract­ing ;)


I think it is a very BOLD step. Go for it!

Why oh why?! This seg­ment missed the mark of provoca­tive and land­ed in a pit of foolery…just fool­ery. There is so much com­men­tary that could be made, but I reserve my deep­est eye roll for the hideous hair­dos. These styles were in vogue about 10 years ago! And I agree, most pro­fes­sion­al adult women weren’t wear­ing these styles even when they were hot.  A White woman will NEVER ful­ly under­stand what a Black woman expe­ri­ences (espe­cial­ly in cor­po­rate Amer­i­ca); point blank peri­od. How­ev­er, if Endia wish­es to “chal­lenge what they under­stand” regard­ing Black hair, she should cap­i­tal­ize on those teach­able moments… Read more »

Inter­est­ing how you talked about white women and their inse­cu­ri­ties with their curls…I have heard this before from a white woman I know with extreme­ly curly hair who was told to ‘do some­thing with it.’ When she came to terms with her­self she ditched the flat iron. Many South Asian women also feel the same way about their curls and flat­ten them out. Smh…we have been fooled into believ­ing we are the only ones that don’t have straight hair nat­u­ral­ly.

Yes indeed Sandy. There are so many groups world­wide that have curly to coily hair. In oth­er groups (such as Indi­ans) nat­ur­al hair is not a top­ic of debate or rev­o­lu­tion. It is com­mon prac­tice, an unques­tioned, that you DO NOT ever wear curly hair. 2 of my Indi­an friends (one in her 20s, the oth­er in her 40s) have issues with their curls. The younger one wears her curls only in the case of a time emer­gency. The old­er one has nev­er worn her curls in pub­lic. It’s real­ly a shame. I think we as Black peo­ple con­stant­ly have to… Read more »

It doesn’t work for me, this look may help break down the hair bar­ri­ers black women face in this envi­ron­ment, but many would see it as too out there yet for bw these styles are just nor­mal every day hair styles.


Well they look ratch­et! Just like some black women look, when they wear their hair like this to the office. I can see wear­ing a nice fro or curls, in fact I think nat­ur­al is best, but these are actu­al­ly styles for lit­tle girls not grown women. When I see mid­dle age black women wear­ing these styles I won­der how old they THINK they are? I would do these styles on lit­tle girls or on some­one who may be vaca­tion­ing in the Islands, but they tru­ly look dumb on old­er black women.


Ratch­et????? Do you mean wretched?


nah ratchet’s a word that’s in cir­cu­la­tion right now. i guess it’s “our” ver­nac­u­lar for ghet­to, igno­rant, etc.


Our? Yeah, no. Some igno­rant rap­per with min­strel lyrics start­ed this pur­pose­ful mis­pro­nun­ci­a­tion and the igno­rant mass­es fol­lowed suit. SSDD 

-Signed sick and tired of “some” of us embrac­ing igno­rance and claim­ing it as ours.


I don’t think a twist and curl or corn­rows are ratch­et. I think the should have showed dead­locks a blown out Fro a curly Fro a Fro hawk but hey who are we kid­ding white women couldn’t mim­ick our hair tex­tures any­way lol

I agree it’s not ratch­et on an 11 year old. But what grown women wear this hair and then wants to be tak­en seri­ous­ly in the cor­po­rate are­na? Most may con­di­tion abd blow dry. But they won’t attend 6 years of col­lege to wear this style on an inter­view. They are not giv­ing black women enough cred­it. There is a time for play and time to be and look pro­fes­sion­al. This is ridicu­lous. But not uncom­mon for white peo­ple to over exag­ger­ate our style. I could wear a crazy Pamela Lee Ander­son or Kim Kar­dashi­an wig and it would look… Read more »

I agree. Would you go into the office with a high messy bun, pig tails or side pony? That’s what these styles say to me- appro­pri­ate for aged high school and younger, espe­cial­ly when you’re talk­ing about going to work.


The only thing the “artist” accom­plished was mak­ing them look like racial­ly con­fused, meth head, baby mom­mas to some black baby dad­dy thugs in prison, with their half black kids at home ready to become the future sociopaths of the world.Please. You see this every­day. I’m sur­prised they are not wear­ing gold teeth? I see very few grown,intelligent black women wear­ing these lit­tle girl styles.


So six or right sim­ple corn­rows hang­ing down the back is rachet on a mid­dle age women?
What?!! I’m confused…I don’t con­sid­er sim­ple corn­rows rachet on any age. 0_0




I’m yawn­ing. Very dis­taste­ful!!


these are awful hair­styles and dont real­ly rep­re­sent styles i wear. no won­der the mod­els seem to be in pain.


lol talk about pained facial expres­sions


Yes! I wish they would smile. This just looks awk­ward. >_<


I see what the artist was attempt­ing but it is poor­ly con­cieved and deliv­ered. Most black women in cor­po­rate amer­i­ca are not wear­ing styles like this. We are embrass­ing our tex­ture and yes even braids. Why have 3–4 white women with their hair braid­ed on one side and curly on the oth­er? Real­ly? Why not have one with curls, a fro, braids etc. As a black nat­ur­al female I’m actu­al­ly insult­ed by this so called art. Just my opin­ion…

Ummm I actul­ly DID see a woman with roller set curls, a woman with braids, and how exact­ly do you sug­gest they achieve an afro on a white woman’s head with­out the use of A.) a wig or B.) EXTREME dam­age? OBVIOUSLY most white hair tex­tures can­not mim­ic nat­ur­al african amer­i­can hair tex­tures so how do you sug­gest they “embrace” a tex­ture that would prob­a­bly require CHEMICALS to achieve?! I don’t under­stand why every­one is so con­fused about the style choices..The styl­ist worked with what they had which was stringy thin, straight Euro­pean hair. Also, if you read the arti­cle,… Read more »

they went to a black hair salon and that’s what they were given…by black hair­styl­ists although they may have been more on the side of town where the women there would wear styles like these..


I saw this on Clutch and I agree with you. Plus there are two hair­styles that aren’t even remote­ly black and one of those is more of a his­tor­i­cal hair­style (the fin­ger waves) that was a pop­u­lar hair­style in the 30s. The artist seems extreme­ly out of touch with how black women wear their hair.


a lot of black peo­ple wore fin­ger waves in the ‘90s. its not that far removed.


It’s 2013…


Tell that to girls down south lol