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Playing by the Rules: Job Interviews and Natural Hair

Playing by the Rules: Job Interviews and Natural Hair

January 23, 20135Comments

naturalinterviewsGetting ready for a job interview used to be fairly simple because I play by all the traditional rules:

1) Navy blue skirt suit (because studies indicate that people who wear navy suits are more productive and get more positive results)

2) Black closed-toe pumps (I keep two of the exact same pair on hand at all times), no sling-backs, no stilettos, no glitz, and no glamour

3) Shirt options: White button down, red blouse or blue oxford button down

4) Flesh colored stockings (imagine trying to find those for women of color in a predominately white town)

5) Pearl stud earrings

6) Hair— cut, layered, flat-ironed, feathered and flipped.

7) Pause and remember that I wear my hair natural now! I can’t follow the rules! How should I wear my hair for interviews?!

Until I went natural, the interview rules were very easy to accommodate. As any natural in the job market knows, this gets more difficult during the journey to natural. Many naturals ask themselves, “Is my hair professional enough?”

So there I sat, preparing for an interview, looking at the big hair I love so much and going over my options. I thought about just how much it would hurt (literally) to pull it back into a bun.  Flat ironing was out of the question (heat damage the first time I went natural).  A wash and go was certainly a no go in the Midwest winter and I look way too young when I’m wearing a puff.

The internal debate continued overnight. I even recruited the help of a couple of friends. My female friend (also natural) said my hair was much too big and that I should pull it back. My male friend said he thought it was just fine. Yeah, no help there. Watching Scandal that night did not help much since Kerry Washington’s character has a tendency to make me long for my relaxed locks.

Ultimately, I decided that there were two important factors to consider. First, if women with natural hair do not wear their hair out, in all of it’s kinky/coily beauty, for interviews, how will society’s views ever really change? Second, I needed to be as comfortable as possible during my interview and being distracted by a tight bun pulling my scalp certainly was not conducive to such. Still, we all know that we sometimes have to play by the rules in order to change them and during a time of economic instability, employment is crucial. At the end of the day, I have three children to feed. With little time remaining before I needed to leave the house I decided to just do what was right as far as my children were concerned. So… I put on my power suit, oxford blue button down shirt, black pumps, pearl stud earrings and I fluffed my ‘fro. Because at the end of the day, the message I want to send to my children is that even when you play by life’s rules, what is most important is being comfortable in your own skin.

 

 

 

 

 

BlackHairKitchen

BlackHairKitchen

BlackHairKitchen covers all things Black hair care, from the kitchen sink to the hair salon.

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  • I love it! Inspiration

  • I love this. I went natural a few years ago. When I was looking for a new job (in fashion/marketing, to be fair) my dad was convinced that no one would hire me if I showed up with my mini-fro. I’m proud to say that I got several job offers — and several compliments about my “cool” / “funk” hair.

    Keep fighting the good [hair] fight!

  • Elayne

    I found this interesting. I think natural hair period is okay – just don’t walk in with a huge afro! That’s way too distracting. Even for me seeing it in everyday conversation – not in a business setting at all – is distracting. I feel that society shouldn’t try to change our image or anyone’s image into this one acceptable image. We are all different and what’s natural to us should be accepted. When Muslim women go to an interview, do they take off their Hijab to be more “acceptable?” NOPE! Why would they when that’s a part of them? The same way our natural hair is a part of us. I’ll pull more curly fro into a ponytail, pin it back into a cute but simple hairstlye, or pin it into a bun because just like you said, we must be comfortable as well. I’m not going to sit through an interview with a tight bun on my head; And if I don;t get the job, the headache would have been for nothing! But clipping it into one is ouchless. =)

    Also, it’s funny you mentioned no sling-backed shoes. I have skinny ankles – always have had them. I can’t wear flats or pumps – only ones with buckles or sling-backed ones. Is that really not professional? If so, there’s no other option for me but to walk in barefoot lol

  • Clarissa

    I am interviewing now, and I am doing it with natural hair. I love my wild and kinky curlies. I feel so much more confident than I used to with other hairstyles. Love the article!

  • Kat

    I really liked this. It was one of the only articles I’ve read that didn’t spew respectability politics and internalized racism and sexism.

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