Nope, sorry to disappoint but it’s just a cleverly photoshopped image of blogger Natural Chica‘s hair on the First Lady’s head! So we already know that Mrs Obama has natural hair but favors a press and curl for her everyday style. Seeing the image however got me thinking about how we view natural hair in the workplace.
I’m not one to question peoples motives for straightening their natural curls be it pressing or relaxing (I keep mine straight too) but I’ve heard of all the reasons I hear as to why they would never wear their hair natural to work the worst one was from a friend of mine who said “My workplace is way to conservative and I don’t think my boss would go for it”.
It makes me desperately sad to hear comments like these. Have we as a race really made so little progress since slavery times that white people are only able to accept us if we do all we can to look like them ie keep our hair straight? Or are we simply making assumptions and not giving our Caucasian colleagues the credit that they deserve in accepting us as we are?
When I transitioned and first wore my natural hair to work in it’s big kinky* glory, I distinctly remember a lot of ‘Oh my god your hair is so thick!’ and ‘Can I touch it?’ interlaced with ‘Why don’t you always wear it like this!’ from the Caucasian and Asian women, the men didn’t bat an eyelid and I don’t think my boss even noticed! After probably 3 minutes of this, everything was back to normal as we got back to work and that was the last that was mentioned on my new hair.
Now granted I wasn’t working in a high powered executive type role and I can imagine that there would probably be a few eyebrows raised if you turned up with a BAA to a meeting with the other partners at your law firm. Having said that, our TV’s and movie screens are thankfully inundated even more often with images of natural black hair of all textures that people of other races are pretty used to it by now, remember Joan from Girlfriends? Let’s be honest here, many of them are probably already aware that your hair does not grow in that sleek straight style you turn up to work with daily!
In my experience it is usually us black people who seem to have the most issue with natural hair that hasn’t been made ‘presentable’ by relaxing or pressing. Aren’t we being a teeny bit unfair on other races by undermining their capacity to accept us as we are? It wasn’t too long ago that we were saying that America wasn’t ready for a black president. I would love for Michelle Obama to rock her natural hair in it’s curly glory but I wouldn’t be surprised if it was black people that would criticize her the most.