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...

Leave a Reply

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

Notify of
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… 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… 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