Tuesday, May 23, 2006

It's Just My Hair

There has been lots of talk lately about hair and jobs and it started me to thinking. I thought about all the different ways I have worn my hair since being on my own and I realize that I have never changed my hair for anyone but me. I have never changed my hair to get a job. I have never changed my hair to please my family. I changed my hair once as an experiment to see if I would attract more men. (I don't think it made a difference.) I've had my hair cut in a low fade to spite a man. But I have never changed my hair because of outside forces. I have washed my hair, had it shaped up or I've styled it for job interviews. But never once did I ever think of my hair as being unacceptable for a job interview. And if the thought ever crossed my mind it was only for a fleeting minute. Since being on my own I've worn a large fro, cornrows, a fade, a TWA, jerri curl, perm, natural, braids and now sisterlocks. When interviewing for jobs I have always gone for neatness: a nice suit; clean, neat hair; and a little makeup. I've always been more concerned about what will come out of my mouth. Will I come across as intelligent, competent and qualified? My skin is already brown so I know that has already set the stage. If an employer is able to get beyond that then my hair is not a concern. And if race is a question, I question whether or not I want to work there. I have always interviewed with natural hair and not once have I felt that my hair had a negative impact on the interview. Of course I may very well be walking around with blinders on but I have managed to get most of the jobs I wanted. And the ones I didn't get I don't think they were for me.

However, I did think a lot before I got locks. I wondered if my hair would be seen as a political statement which was not my intention. I also wondered if it would have an effect on my job. I worked in a conservative real estate research center within the university. We were 100% funded by donors and our donors were all along the lines of investment bankers. But I went to work one day with my hair in two-stranded twists that had been set, it looked very similar to baby sisterlocks and my boss said "nice do." So out the window went all my concerns about getting sisterlocks. I never got any negative feedback from anyone at work about my hair except for one comment from a sister that I supervised. I always made sure my hair was neat and/or styled for any events we held for our donors.

When I interviewed for my current position at the same university I wasn't even concerned about my hair. I knew that one sister in the department had locks. I did pull my hair back into a pony tail which is my conservative look. Since I've been working there one of the directors even told me she loves my hair and that it is amazing.

I think the most important thing is that you are comfortable with who you are. If you are uncomfortable with your hair then maybe you need to change it, after all its just hair.