Before my interview with my present employer, I remember myself imagining everything that could possibly go wrong. I thought that the moment I walked into the interview I would be greeted with shocked faces because my hair was as big as my personality and experience on my resume.
I also thought that my employer would be too distracted with my hair to understand what I had to offer to the company. However, none of those events actually played out when I went to the interview. I got the job and I learned a valuable lesson that even today continues to hold truth.
The truth is that our hair is a natural extension of who we are culturally, and personally.
The truth is that our hair is a natural extension of who we are culturally, and personally. Employers are looking for more diverse people to bring different perspectives and backgrounds into their workplaces. So when we start the interview process revealing who we truly are, naturalistas with big ass afros, they can see that our hair is a part of what makes us memorable in a crowd of faces.
On the flipside, you cannot rely on your hair to make you the “diverse token” to a business. Your hair makes you memorable, but your accomplishments are what will really set you apart. The best piece of advice I’d like to give is to show your employer early on who you really are, so you won’t be miserable trying to cover up your hair throughout your career.
Although this advice might be better for someone who has always been natural, what about those who would like to transition in the middle of their career? I understand that when we make the decision to go natural it can be difficult to have the confidence to wear it to the office. Especially in the very beginning of the journey where you will need to choose between transitioning or big chopping.
The best piece of advice I’d like to give is to show your employer early on who you really are, so you won’t be miserable trying to cover up your hair throughout your career.
You will need to prepare yourself for what will await you once you make that decision to wear your BAA for the first time. I can tell you that people will sometimes demand explanations that we will awkwardly give. In some cases, it will be to people who will never experience this journey for themselves.
I’d like to say that you should embrace these opportunities to encourage other women to start their natural hair journey or you can use these conversations as a teaching moment. Try not to be dogmatic or go into a full synopsis on what it means to you. Yes, even when they still don’t accept your decision or understand the purpose!
Briefly state to them your intentions and try not to take their response personally. The biggest mistake that you can make when you wear your big ass afro to work is to absorb negative comments about your hair rather than focusing on yourself and your journey in the long run. Trust me, your confidence in your hair will contribute to your coworkers appreciation of who you are.