Is an afro a no go in the corporate setting?..that has been a big question. When I look in the mirror these days, I don’t feel that I look “professional”. I feel that I look fun, creative and well, for lack of wanting to hide my thoughts, black. I look black with this hair. The way my mane is growing full and thick, and without any pattern or any shape that is easy to tame, I feel free. I am happy to admit that black is no longer a negative image for me. I feel ethnic, urban, or fill in the blank with any other adjective and match that with successful. I have matured enough to know that the image of success does not come in a certain shape, color or style. I am mastering the art of self love and that makes this journey successful.
As I transition home and think about moving back into the Corporate American world, you would think I would have other fears. I could be worried that living abroad for 3 years has altered my ability to articulate my business views in a clear way for those that understand English as a first language, but I’m not. I could be worried that I have slipped behind on the latest healthcare IT jargon and U.S. standards, but I’m not.
Instead, I’m worried about these wild curls that I have let grow wild and free for the past year. There are lots of styles that could make my look appear more of a business style…but wait…what am I saying? Do I feel like this afro is not made for business meetings and a normal corporate setting? Do I feel embarrassed or ashamed that my hair doesn’t slick back in a neat bun or lay down with the fine flow that I often envy? Yes, that is exactly how I feel. Well, how I used to feel.
My mind is changing and evolving with my natural state. Everyday, I feel more comfortable and confident with this hair. There are still moments that I miss my long, straight tresses that were silky to the touch and made me feel beautiful as it ran down my back. There are still days that I feel that quickly whipping up some chemicals and relaxing this hair down while killing my curls would be much easier, but I’m committed.
This is not some crazy cry for attention. This is not my claim to never straighten my hair again. Quite frankly, I believe that our hair is an expression and we should be able to style it as our moods change. My main goal is to accept myself and my hair for the unique look that I was given and feel comfortable going to work with this look. I don’t want to feel out of place or as if my hair is a distraction from my intellect. There is no statement to be made, but rather a bold request to make this normal. At first, it will feel awkward, but eventually it will become an image that is matched with the value added to a great business. It will become an image that is not challenged by radical views of what beauty or professional women should look like.
Growing up, I hated my hair because no one around me looked that way that I did. If I had one successful woman who embraced her natural hair and wore it with confidence and acceptance, I would have admired her. I would have felt comfortable saying no to the long processes that strip every wave and every curl. I would have abandoned all negative thoughts of how my look would hold me back from certain successes.
I want to help little girls with their self images. I want to encourage anyone who doesn’t feel they are pretty in their natural state, and open them up to accepting beauty as a feeling, not a look. More than anything, I admit that maybe I am writing this blog out of fear. Maybe I am writing this blog to build my own confidence as I prepare for my first business meetings next week. Maybe I am writing this blog to tell you that you are not alone in your feelings, but that change is here. Before I grab my hair gel and bobby pins to face these clients next week, I want to ask myself one serious question- Do I feel comfortable and pretty? Just go…"let em’ see you kid!"
Two of my biggest inspirations can be found at the youtube channel "Naturally GG" Subscribe and let these young queens encourage you with amazing styles and beauty tips with your hair! Thank you for paving the way! https://www.youtube.com/user/NaturallyGG