Friday, December 4, 2009


As salaamu alaikum & Hello ladies, I read this article and found it quite interesting.  Below I've posted the article.  Tell me what you ladies think ?. 

Black women's hairstyles--and the debate over natural hair versus straightened hair--are a hot topic again after a Glamour magazine staffer sparked a firestorm of controversy with her public comments about Afros.

The staffer, who was presenting the "rules" of female corporate attire to a group of New York women lawyers that included black women, said Afros were an improper corporate hairstyle. DiversityInc decided to ask two successful black-female executives who wear their hair in natural styles about the issue.

"We seem to be the only women who ... are always required to change the naturalness of who we are because of what other people think of us," says Marcia Brown, vice provost, student affairs and community outreach for Rutgers University, Newark.

There's a standard in society that says women who are presentable at minimum and beautiful at maximum are women whose hair blows and hangs ... It's a European standard," adds Brown, who since the 1960s has worn her hair both natural and straight and currently wears her hair in locks, which are commonly called dreadlocks.

To straighten curly hair or not is a continuous question for black women in particular and women of color in general. DiversityInc covered this topic in its March 2006 issue with the article "To Perm or Not to Perm." Because white executives are the majority population throughout corporate America, standards of dress and acceptable hairstyles have mirrored white styles. That there are so few senior-executive black women who wear their hair in an Afro or other natural hairstyle is telling of the problem.

The issue exploded on the Internet again after the Glamour magazine staffer made the presentation at New York law firm Cleary Gottlieb Steen & Hamilton (CGSH). Since then, Glamour's editor-in-chief and CGSH's managing partner have issued apologies, plus the staffer resigned. CGSH's Women's Working Group, which includes a few black-female lawyers, organized a lunch in June and invited the unnamed Glamour staffer to give a presentation on women's corporate attire. The first slide in the presentation featured a black-female executive wearing an Afro, to which the Glamour staffer reportedly said Afros were a "Glamour Don't." She added, "Those political hairstyles really have to go."

Melissa Theodore, 27, currently wears her hair in braids. She has an older sister who is a corporate lawyer and straightened her Afro when she interviewed. After being hired, she wore her hair in braids, too.

I personally never had concerns," says Theodore, who is a staff accountant, international tax services at Ernst & Young .

But while Theodore did not have concerns, her family did. She was warned by her parents and sister that wearing an Afro or braids might hurt more than help her prospects in corporate America.

"You see [Afros and other natural hairstyles], but probably not as often as relaxed hair," says Theodore about black-female executive hairstyles.

She adds that the only political statement made by an Afro is one of individuality

Some [black] women wear their hair natural because they want to be close to their roots and closer to how God made them," says Theodore. "I don't think anyone should concern themselves with it at all. In the workplace, the job you do is [most important]."

Brown adds that rather than considering the black-woman executive who wears an Afro "political," white senior executives should consider that black executive an independent thinker. She says those women are proud and not afraid to speak up and contribute honestly because they are not second-guessing whether their views are being filtered.

I wear my hair in locks because it's my natural hair and it makes a statement that I am anti any standard but my own on what is beautiful," says Brown.

For people who dismiss the societal prejudice that motivates black women to straighten their hair as irrelevant, Brown says consider famous black women in entertainment. Few if any wear their hair in a natural state, including U.S. Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice. Brown points out that she can't remember an "Oprah Winfrey Show" featuring natural hairstyles on makeover shows that included black women. Even the television show "Girl Friends," which airs on the CW network, doesn't include a black woman with naturally curly hair. Black women do not have an equivalent to Michael Jordan, who made it fashionable for black men to shave their heads.

If women like Oprah and women who have the mantle can't show the broad range of black women's hairstyles, that's where the problem is ... the statement is that if you're a dark woman with nappy hair, you can't be a woman in the board room, running the company, or someone considered good-looking," says Brown.

Brown, who is also a lawyer, did straighten her curly hair while working for a telecom company. But "there was a stark change in how people reacted to me when I changed it to locks." She felt the stares.

"[Black hairstyles that are natural] should not force you to be placed in a position where you are not considered worthy or considered not beautiful," says Brown. "When it denies opportunity, it's time to say, 'Enough is enough.

Share with us here at "AuNaturale " what are your feelings on this subject ?.  Until next time , Enjoy and take care (smile).


Nawal said...

So true, we should all be able to wear our natural hair without prejudice, but then again, muslim women wear hijab so there really is no way of telling in public.

zainab1 said...

Nawal : This is true, you're right muslim women do wear their hair coverd in public, alhamdulliaah( all praise to Allaah). Great point , thanks for sharing that, smiles.

Lady Kinnks said...

It can be exhausting. Whats wrong with being yourself? I will continue to be natural. I know that when and if my daughter decides to pursue a strong career, people wouldn't think twice about her beautiful coils.

zainab1 said...

Lady Kinks: I am with you , I love being natural and will continue to be , god willing. Natural hair is beautiful, its freeing , its being true to yourself. Thanks for stopping by and sharing your thoughts (smile).

JahLionessJD said...

It's sad that in this day and age black woman can't accept who they are in everyway. I sometimes blame it on those in the spotlight. I mean big o'l Oprah, never seen her be natural, and to be honest, i think her show is more white than black. The sistahs we have in the spotlight, show go natural now and then, show us that they love their hair that way too. They might say that they will be scrutinized, but if more than one of them go natural, it would be a celebration. I say, good on those executives who are true to their Goddess Black self.

zainab1 said...

JahLionessJD: I'm with you its great to see ladies embrace their trueness. Thanks for stopping by and sharing your view. Take care(smiles)

ChocolateOrchid said...

I do think that black women are still expected to "blend" in by relaxing or weaving up their hair but I also feel that society's view on natural hair is evolving. Today, I more black professional women and black professional women in high corporate positions wearing their hair natural than ever. When I do, it always touches me to see women embracing and loving who they are.

Btw, you've been tagged. Check out my blog post.

zainab1 said...

Chocolate Orchid: Yes, I agree with you I have also noticed that there are many more black professional women embracing their naturalness. Thanks for sharing your thoughts with us here at AuNaturale (smiles)

Alena said...

I recently came across your blog and have been reading along. I thought I would leave my first comment. I don't know what to say except that I have enjoyed reading. Nice blog. I will keep visiting this blog very often.


zainab1 said...

Alena: Well thank you very much for your kind comment, and welcome aboard. I hope that this blog can assist you in keeping healthy hair. And , do visit often, take care.