Friday, September 24, 2010

Natural Hair-Positive Places

I intern in what most would say a "corporate" office in the Flatiron District in Manhattan during the day, and in the late afternoons I'm an after school teacher in Harlem. When I first started interning at this office a year and a half ago, I still had the frame of mind that straight hair = polished and professional. For my interview I remember I straightened my hair, and if it wasn't straight I kept my hair in braids and twists. It was around this time I started reading natural hair blogs and understanding I had options. I wore my hair big and fluffy in all types of styles and no one said anything or gave me a funny look. In fact, every so often I get compliments for my hair and occasionally someone will ask me what I how I did it. Even the three black women who have relaxed hair compliment my me. So I can safely say that this job is "natural hair positive."

As you may recall in this post, I wore my hair natural to my interview with the after school without second thought because as far as I'm concerned, this is how my hair is. There's no fixing it! I've been wearing twists, braid outs, buns, and everything in between. I am currently working with 4th graders and so the other day as I lined up the students to head to their cooking club, the girls inquired about my hair.

Miss, when you gonna get a relaxer?! M asked bluntly.
Get a relaxer? I said. Why should I get one?
Because your hair will be straight and pretty, S added smiling.
Ya'll don't like my hair like this?
No! I'm sorry to say but you would look so pretty if you straightened your hair! M said.
I snickered. I think my hair looks great the way it is. And this is how I was wearing it...

2nd day curls, held back with a banana clip!

Do you straighten it? Even if you don't get a perm, will you straighten it?
Sorry M, I like the way my hair is and I'm not gonna straighten it because you want me to. I'll do it when I feel like it.

As I was having this conversation with these girls, no older than 9 and with relaxed hair I didn't feel insulted. In fact, I was expecting it from the girls because they are at the age where they say what's on their mind and how you answer will be important. It was at that moment I also realized how confident I was with my hair. Even though natural my whole life, getting to a point where I just love myself took a while. What's even funnier about this whole situation is that I've actually been contemplating straightening my hair in the coming weeks, but now I may hold off for a bit longer!

 I now know what my seventh grade teacher felt like when she sported her curly hair and had everyone harassing her about just straightening her hair to look "pretty." I'm not interested in "converting" these girls to the natural side (quite honestly, their hairstyle choices may not be their decision) but they will be seeing a confident young woman in their classroom-curls and all! So both my jobs are natural hair-positive places because that's the environment I'm making it!


  1. That is definitely the age where you should expect to get truth because 9 year old girls will say EXACTLY what's on their minds!! I love that you said your job is natural hair positive because you make it that way. And I agree with you that wearing my hair in curly or kinky styles is just the way my hair is so I wear it like that with pride regardless of where I'm going because that's how my hair will be 99% of the time :)

  2. i forgot to mention your hair looks perfect!

  3. @Just B- that's how it should be! work your hair!
    @SP thanks love!


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