Natural Hair

Natural Hair at Work: Handling Questions with Confidence and Grace

As a black woman who wears my natural hair at work in corporate America, I first hand understand the beauty and challenges of that. Whether you’re flaunting curls, coils, or locs, handling questions about your natural hair at work with confidence and grace, in my opinion, is essential. This guide offers supportive and to-the-point advice on navigating these scenarios.

Understanding Intent: Genuine, Ignorant, or Malicious?

So what happens if you get an off the wall comment, a comment unexpected, or just a comment or question that you were not expecting to get? Before you respond, understanding the intent behind the question can help you address it appropriately.

Here’s how to determine if a question about your natural hair at work is genuine, ignorant, or malicious.

  • Genuine: The person is sincerely curious and wants to learn more without any ill intent.
  • Ignorant: The person lacks knowledge about natural hair and may make insensitive comments out of ignorance, not malice.
  • Malicious: The person is intentionally disrespectful or demeaning towards your hair and possibly your cultural identity.

Handling Genuine Questions

When faced with genuine curiosity, seize the opportunity to educate and share your experience.

  1. Stay Positive and Informative: Respond and provide informative answers. For example, if someone asks, “How do you style your locs?” you can say, “I use techniques like retwisting and moisturizing to maintain them. It’s apart of my self care and routine that requires patience and care.”
  2. Share Personal Stories: Sharing your journey can humanize the experience and build rapport. For instance, “I’ve always loved the versatility and beauty of natural hair. Embracing my locs has been a journey of self pride and and it’s important to who I am.”
  3. Encourage Further Learning: Suggest resources for those genuinely interested in learning more. You could say, “If you’re curious to learn more about natural hair care, check out CurlyNikki or NaturallyCurly.”

Handling Ignorant Questions

Ignorant questions can be challenging, but they offer a chance to educate. If you so please. Remember, you are in no way obligated to educate someone in this circumstance, but you can if you want to.

  1. Correct Misconceptions: If someone says, “Is it hard to wash your hair with locs?” respond with, “Actually, washing my locs is quite straightforward. It’s just a different process than you might be used to.”
  2. Set Boundaries: Set boundaries if questions become too invasive. For example, “I appreciate your curiosity, but I’d prefer not to discuss my hair in detail.”
  3. Educate on Professionalism: Highlight that professionalism extends beyond appearance. You might say, “Natural hairstyles like mine are professional and culturally significant. Professional capabilities aren’t defined by hair texture or style.”

Handling Malicious Comments

When comments are malicious, it’s essential to address them directly and protect your dignity.

  1. Stay Calm and Assertive: Respond assertively. For instance, if someone says, “Your hair looks unprofessional,” respond with, “That comment is inappropriate. My hairstyle is a personal and cultural choice and does not impact my professionalism.”
  2. Seek Support from HR: If the behavior continues, if the comments are not coming from your manager, direct the situation to you your manager and report it to Human Resources. Document the incident with details of what was said.
  3. Address the Behavior Directly: Sometimes, directly addressing the person can be effective. You could say, “Comments like that are disrespectful and unprofessional. I expect to be treated with the same respect as any other colleague.”

Practical Tips for Navigating Hair Conversations

  1. Prepare Responses: Have a few prepared responses ready for common questions or comments. This can help you feel more confident and less caught off guard.
  2. Stay Professional: Always maintain a professional demeanor, even if the comment is offensive. You remember what Michelle Obama SAID?! “When they go low, we go HIGH” your professionalism will speak volumes.
  3. Know Your Rights: Familiarize yourself with your company’s policies on discrimination and protections offered by laws like the Crown Act, I wrote a full article about it HERE. Knowing your rights can empower you to take appropriate action if needed.
  4. Build a Support Network: Connect with colleagues who have natural hair or are supportive allies. Having a support system can provide emotional backing and practical advice.

Navigating questions about natural hair at work and in professional settings can be a delicate balance, but with the right approach, you can handle these conversations with confidence and grace. Whether educating others, setting boundaries, or addressing malicious behavior, it’s crucial to stand firm in your identity and rights.

Remember, your natural hair is a part of who you are, and you deserve to be respected and celebrated for it. By handling these conversations with grace and confidence, you contribute to a more inclusive and understanding workplace for everyone.

For more support and resources, check out:

Embrace your natural hair at work with pride and confidence. Check out all of the nautral hair inspiraiton for work HERE, and let’s create a world where all hair types are celebrated!

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Meet the founder behind Corporate Curly – a brand crafted with love to uplift the modern working woman through natural hair care, workwear inspiration, and career guidance. This journey isn't just about business; it's about pouring my heart into empowering women like you to embrace their authenticity and thrive in every aspect of their professional lives.