Natural hair, don’t care: my pouf is professional

Brea Joyner

Natural hair is not a trend. It’s not a lifestyle. It’s not a race thing. It is identity.

During my recent trip to a conference in New York City, I spoke to an ABC reporter and asked her about the reality of natural hair on television. I told her that as I flip through different newscasts on TV, I hardly ever see anchors with hair like mine. Before I could finish my question, however, she had already answered it.

She told me that certain markets have an idea of what professionalism looks like. From your hair strands to your shoe strings. If that market doesn’t like your hair, you have to change it.

No one ever comes out to say that your kink does not look professional. It’s just implied that you need to wear it straight: “straight and blonde if they could help it,” she said. Uniform.

I get that each company is entitled to their own policy and dress code, but to what extent? Is there a thin line between policy and preference?

Outrageous colors. Offensive words buzzed on your scalp. Obviously unclean. Unprofessional.

But there is nothing unprofessional about avoiding heat or chemical damage to your hair.

For the past four years, I have improved on my writing, published articles, received a scholarship based my works within the communication department, not to mention written, filmed and edited videos. The work is there, people.

And it hurts that my physical appearance may reflect my work ethic more than my resumé.

Since I was a young girl, I was never proud of my hair because I thought it wasn’t considered “good hair.” For the first few years of college, I would constantly change my hair to try new looks, not being totally proud of my roots. I’m finally proud of my hair as an extension of who I am.

Honestly, when I saw that wearing natural hair was coming back, I thought that it was just a trend. Since I was wearing a weave a lot and not perming hair, I decided to go natural.

This was the healthiest decision I made for my hair—and my self-esteem.

At first, it was hard to embrace because it was a bit hard to handle, and I couldn’t come up with many styles. But then I looked into hair tutorials on YouTube. And they helped me embrace my coils with pride. Ignoring years of hearing people degrade natural hair, using terms like “nappy.”

I scoped my social media as well as news articles, and the preference does not stop in news media. It is promoted on magazines. Advertisements. Entertainment.

In “How to Get Away with Murder,” there’s a scene of the main character Annalise (portrayed by Academy award-winning actress Viola Davis) taking off her makeup and wig, revealing her natural hair. Annalise is a big-time lawyer and criminal justice professor, and in this moment she is vulnerable and more relatable.

I think that this opens the discussion of having to put on a mask in corporate professions. Why couldn’t her character wear her hair natural instead of a straight-haired wig? Because it’s not common.

Whether you’re a celebrity or a senior looking for a professional job on television, your hair does not define your work ethic–nor should you feel ashamed to wear it in a professional environment. Policy should not interfere with personal expression, which includes appearance.