Is Curly Hair Professional?

Hi there!

I just had the most unexpected and interesting conversation that started, of all things, over how to wrap a hair bun (especially when you have curly hair).

I know – you’re probably thinking: “Old news… buns are so basic?”, but stick with me – it gets deeper than that.

How to wrap a bun?

Seems like a pretty basic question, right? But oh no – not when you’re a curly girl. Here’s what happened…

I was walking to lunch during a break while attending a conference (Confidence Activated by Rachel Luna — oh, my goodness — it was absolutely worth going to — more on that in a later post!)

While walking, I noticed another woman had the most classy, yet simple bun style for her hair. Now, she’s caucasian, I’m not — and I’m slowly embracing this “love your curls” thing — learning new styles, techniques, etc. I was curious about how much hair (length) and effort was needed to achieve that look.

Ashley (hey girl!) was gracious enough to explain the process, and also shared that she’s a curly girl too – even though her hair was straightened for this style.

You’d think that was the end of it – but, we both made seemingly innocent comments that took it a little deeper than a hair tutorial.

Is Curly Hair Unprofessional?

She commented that she usually straightens her hair for work – as if having straight hair is more professional.  And… I immediately understood and agreed because I’d just done the same thing (straightened my hair for the event)! But we both were of the mindset that straight hair = professional.

As we talked further, she started asking me about my hair texture – and was surprised to learn that I’m uncomfortable wearing my hair natural (think big afro, curls, etc. on a 4b/c hair texture.)

But when she asked “Why?”, all I could think to say was “Because I’m used to a certain look… and I don’t want all of that attention.” — which gave us both pause… Because we were both doing the same thing.

Curly Girls_ Why do we hide our curls_LivingTheClassyLife.com

Why are we afraid to show our curly hair?

I’m well aware that the whole “curly girl movement” has been going on for years. What has surprised me, though, is how much it affects ALL curly girls – regardless of race or curl pattern.

We all deal with insecurities around our hair, but I believe it’s stronger for curly girls because we’ve often been taught to hide our curls. Using myself as an example:

Childhood:

  • constant use of hot combs,
  • Straightening with a comb-attachment on the hair dryer
  • Silk wraps
  • Running from all forms of water (including rain) because it could “ruin my hair”?!

Teenage/Young adult:

  • Chemical relaxers (to permanently straighten)
  • Extensions for silky-smooth, straight hair
  • Still running from all exposure to water because “Oh my gosh, my hair?!”

Adulthood/Workplace:

  • “Refined” styles that minimized hair texture (as talked about here)
  • Making sure that my hair wasn’t the focus of attention
  • As mentioned before, the belief that “straight and sleek equaled polished and professional”

And these don’t even take into account the media, cartoons, movies, etc. that portray a certain “perception” of curly girls. (Hint: Curly girls used to always be the wild, kooky, frazzled and carefree ones; not poised, intelligent and capable.)

Thankfully this has changed so much for the positive over the years, but we still have quite a way to go. Even searching for photos for this post produced dismal results.

What I intend to do about it.

Well, first, as my new buddy suggested, I’m going to wear my curls – at least one day a week. (Scary!) But how else will I begin to accept wearing my hair if I don’t start doing that? I’ll start by pulling from a couple of more professional curly styles shown here.

Second, I must learn how to support my curls. Having curly hair does have it’s advantages because it can be worn in so many different styles and textures. But, only if our hair is healthy and happy. Mine is not. This must improve.

Third, I’m going to talk more to other curly girls both in person and online. Like, really talk rather than just offering a compliment on their curls, by asking questions, comparing techniques and sharing stories.

Tell me what you think…

I’m curious to know what your experiences and thoughts are…  What’s it been like having curly hair in the workplace? Do you have naturally straight hair and bring a totally different perspective? If you’ve transitioned to natural hair, how’d you do it?

Feel free to leave a comment below, or, you can inbox me directly here.

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Stay Classy!

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