Natural hair in the form of coils and curls has always been a touchy subject in the professional workplace. Several individuals across a variety of curl patterns have at one point experienced discrimination over their natural hair afro. Or perhaps they have felt the need to assimilate to fit within euro-centric beauty standards. In 2022, we are fortunate to live in an age where things such as the Crown Act have been put into fruition which prevents discrimination in professional settings. However, with all the progress we have made as a society there’s still a stigma that surrounds natural hair. This leaves lots room for progress to be made.
3 College Students Navigate Wearing Natural Hair in Professional Spaces
To celebrate Word Afro Day 2022, All Things Hair sat down with three aspiring professionals with natural hair. Kyla Y, Alisa B, and Stacy G are three college students who have been on personal journeys to remove the stigma around natural hair in professional environments through learning how to embrace their own curl patterns no matter their occasion. Through rigorous college classes, demanding extracurriculars, and intellectual internships, these three talk about their experiences with navigating through a variety of professional spaces while proudly wearing their natural hair.
Kyla Y, Emergency Medical Technician
Meet Kyla Y, a college sophomore studying biomedical science while also working part-time as an emergency medical technician. Kyla has a 4C afro hair type and is currently in the process of transitioning back into her natural hair texture from a relaxer. Kyla has always had natural hair during her childhood until a hair stylist decided to put a relaxer in her hair claiming her hair was “too thick to deal with.“ After that, she struggled for a while with the appearance of her hair. At the moment you will find Kyla wearing a variety of protective hairstyles as she is embarking on her new journey. However, her ultimate goal is to wear her 4c hair proudly in its natural state.
“Growing up I was always told by individuals around me that my hair needed to be done, meaning get a wig installed, wear braids, or get a sew-in,” said Kyla. “I had individuals close to me who often made me feel uncomfortable for wanting to wear my natural hair to school or work.” Kyla’s goal is to not only shake off the stigma that was projected onto her by others around her but to also make sure that she is uplifting the others around her with natural hair to embrace their curls and coils, especially in the healthcare field.
Kyla’s Advice on Embracing your Natural Hair Afro
“Remember that embracing your natural hair is a great first step to not only loving yourself more but in helping those around us become more comfortable with seeing natural hair in everyday settings regardless of the setting.”
Kyla’s Natural Hair Routine Essential: SheaMoisture Coconut & Hibiscus Curl & Style Milk
Alissa B, Biomedical Scientist
Meet Alissa B, a biomedical science student who has a 3b and 3c hair texture. “I was raised in a Dominican household where my curly hair was always referred to as ‘bad hair.’ As a kid I was taken to the salons often for a blowout” said Alissa when talking about growing up with tight curls. Once in middle school, she decided to take the initiative to stop getting regular blowouts. She began growing out and transforming her at-the-time, heat-damaged hair. She has grown to love her curls tremendously through the journey.
Since transforming her hair, Alissa wears it out at least 1-3 times a week. In between wearing her natural hair out, she wears it in low-maintenance protective styles such as double braids. Eventually, these become a braided-out style. Alissa states that she often would hesitate to wear her natural hair out previously. However, she has learned to remember that “it is okay to wear my natural hair just like it’s okay for someone with straight hair to wear their natural hair… I actually once had a lady give me a business card to her salon once,” said Alissa. “I don’t take it personally because it is not a reflection of my hair nor appearance, but of their awareness and education.
Alissa’s Advice on Embracing your Natural Hair Afro
“Never let anyone make you feel unsure of your hair, it is unique and beautiful. Be a part of that initiative that normalizes curly hair and equalizes the beauty standards between straight and textured hair.”
Alissa’s Natural Hair Routine Essential: Emerge My Everything Hair Styling Butter Cream
Stacy G, Inclusive Childhood Educator
Meet Stacy G. She is an inclusive childhood education major who has 4b to 4c textured hair. Growing up, she always had a perm. However, during quarantine she made the choice to finally snip her relaxed ends off and start fresh, Stacy states that she has never loved her hair so much! Stacy wears her natural hair mostly throughout the spring and summer. When is not wearing her natural hair, she loves wearing protective styles of all sorts. Stacy’s rule of thumb is “the less heat on natural hair, the better.
When it comes to wearing her natural hair in professional settings, Stacy admits that she often felt judged and out of place while wearing her natural hair. While working as a teacher over the summer, she even watched as students joked about her natural hair. However, moments like this don’t slow her down. Stacy is a firm believer that through wearing her natural hair out more, she is helping to contribute towards a tomorrow where wearing your natural hair in a professional place is normal. “Embracing will help others admire it,” says Stacy.
Stacy’s Advice on Embracing your Natural Hair Afro
Simply, “do what makes you feel best. However, do not wear your hair in certain styles at the cost of your individuality, and to cater to someone else’s beauty standard.”
Stacy’s Natural Hair Routine Essential: SheaMoisture 100% Virgin Coconut Oil Daily Hydration Shampoo and Conditioner
Do you have a story to share about your journey in wearing your natural hair in professional environments? Celebrate world afro day with us when you share your story by tagging @AllThingsHairUS. Also for more inspiring stories, subscribe to our newsletter below.