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.








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