*The natural hair movement is in full effect throughout the country. Women of color are beginning to embrace their God-given roots (literally), and turning away from chemicals and other hair-straightening products.
However, for some women, “natural hair” is perceived as a potential source of criticism in the workplace, making it a difficult decision to embrace.
WNCT news anchor Angela Green posted a video on her Facebook page Monday discussing natural hair at work. Green said that WNCT’s intern, Madison, wears her hair natural. Green also pointed out that she wears straight hair because her bosses prefer it that way.
From the video, you can see that Madison’s hair is curly and extremely voluminous. Green goes on to explain that Madison is preparing to start work on a production, but an issue came up with her hair.
Madison was told that her hair was too big and “distracting.” Green explained that there are people out there with all different types of hair, and how it should be worn in the workplace depends on the market you’re in, as well as your bosses.
“My advice is to straighten it out, just to please everybody,” Green stated as her advice to Madison.
She asked people on Facebook what they would tell Madison, and needless to say, some people were upset with Green for giving what they thought was horrible advice.
One person wrote:
“Forget about it being the style and trend. Growing hair out of one’s scalp is not a trend, it’s just how it is. If people are distracted so much by hair they can’t watch the news, the problem is not your intern. The problem is people. And you are a lovely woman and I understand the importance of People of Color just getting in and occupying jobs we are not usually privy to, but the answer to ‘straighten it just to please people’ was very sad to me. People need to get used to seeing a diverse cross section of humans on their tv, as characters and trusted TV reporters, etc. When it becomes NORMAL to wear your hair the way it grows out of one’s head- that’s when we’ll have true progress in this conversation.”
Another comment read:
“I feel that it was absolutely horrible that you would advise her to straighten her hair. You’re teaching her to hate herself. She could easily put her hair in a bun or wore [sic] it in its natural state. Are you advising her to conform on the basis that you are afraid to stand up for yourself? Stop hating who you are. I work in corporate America and has [sic] never been asked to straighten my hair. I can not understand why the hair the [sic] grows from your scalp is unprofessional!!!”
The responses to Green’s Facebook query weren’t all negative. Some people indicated that she gave the intern great advice, since she was speaking from experience.
One person wrote:
“I actually love this post. Kudos to you Angela. You used this platform to shed light on a situation that needs to be discussed more but more so give your producers/bosses an idea of how we may get offended by such statements. From a professional standpoint depending on the story/production her hair can indeed dominate the screen. Putting it in a bun or using a product to allow her hair to be curly without dominating so much would be ideal. She wants viewers to see and hear her story and not just see her hair. Her hair is beautiful. I’m not sure why people are upset as if you told her to put a relaxer in her hair.”
“I say straight. Only because it’s business. Straightening your hair should not affect your principles if it’s for your passion. Big hair can be distracting on camera at times. My hair is natural and I blow it straight all the time only because it’s easier to manage as an on the go Editor. I really don’t think people should be upset or look beyond the point. It’s just business. Thoughts?”
Green’s post inspired a much needed-discussion about natural hair in the workplace and whether or not it’s professional. With over 2,000 people commenting, it was clear to see that natural hair in the workplace is a divisive issue.