Natural Hair and Job Interviews: Black Women Share Their Experiences

Rightfully so, you probably spend countless hours researching and studying a company before an interview, laying out your freshly ironed clothes, and practicing your elevator pitch in the mirror. However, for many women of color, there's an added layer we absolutely have to think about: How am I going to wear my hair? Should I straighten my curls? Should I take out my braids or my twists? Should I pull back my hair so it won't look too "unkempt"? The unbelievable reality is that society has maintained a disheartening history of attaching natural hairstyles with unprofessionalism. It's even trickled down into education systems and government-enforced laws. In 2016, the federal court ruled it legal to discriminate against employees with dreadlocks. In the same year, young girls got expelled from school for wearing afros and black women were getting fired from their jobs simply because of their natural hair, not because of their ability to do their jobs. The outright prejudice black women face because of the way we decide to wear our hair is completely inexcusable and has been swept under the rug for far too long. As 2019 approaches, the question is, what must it take to demand change? 

It's not okay. Instead of focusing on securing the job, we're forced to focus on how we'll be perceived by our non-natural-haired counterparts. Sure, society has come a long way, but we're far from where we need to be when it comes to 100% accepting and embracing cultural differences. The beauty of understanding is placing yourself in someone else's shoes. Read on for the raw and honest thoughts that go through the minds of women of color when we're preparing for job interviews. While reading these stories, it's vital to acknowledge that everyone shares their own unique experiences. Not all women with natural hair may feel like this when interviewing, but many most definitely do. We share our hair stories below.