Do Professional Organisations Discriminate Against Natural Hair?
With the natural hair movement gaining momentum amongst women of African, Caribbean and Mixed Race heritage, a Birmingham based blogger asks whether it is frowned upon in the corporate world
There is currently a rising trend amongst women of colour in both the UK and the US who are ditching chemical processing in favour of embracing their natural curls and afro textures. The natural hair movement has been changing attitudes towards chemically treated hair and the addition of hair extensions. It’s driven by concerns about hair damage from chemicals, an increase in natural hair products, and a huge online community sharing styling advice and support.
However, with straight hair being the norm and curly/afro hair being more voluminous, many women are being greeted by raised eyebrows and hushed whispers when entering the office. Where there are no overt criticisms, negative reinforcements from the media help to make women of colour feel that their hair is troublesome and in need of taming. There are countless adverts corroborating this including John Frieda, GHD and other popular hair brands encouraging curly haired women to get rid of their natural curls.
Whilst no UK organisation seems to have set any rules or regulations regarding natural hair, in America the US army recently attempted to ban a number of natural hairstyles worn by soldiers. The ban is currently being reviewed with many claiming that it is discriminatory towards black women.
Lorien of the website www.NaturalStruttingIt.co.uk says “It is really important that employers’ prejudice concerning our hair’s kinks and curls will decrease. It would be a shame to see women forced to put chemicals in their hair just to prevent them from missing out on promotions or job opportunities because of short sighted employers”.
A Birmingham based natural hair enthusiast claims that she missed out on a contract extension whilst working for a well-known Tyseley based IT firm; “I had worn my hair in a variety of styles for the duration of my contract and on my last day I straightened it just for a change. The lady in charge of contract extensions told me as I left the building that she likes my hair straight and if I had worn it like that before maybe they would have kept me on”.
The natural hair debate is set to continue at the Natural Strutting It Hair, Beauty & Lifestyle Expo taking place on the 27th of September at the Crowne Plaza Birmingham. The event will include discussions and debates regarding natural hair in addition to demonstrations, workshops, exhibitors, fashion shows and entertainment. More info is available at www.naturalstruttingit.co.uk