The Code Switch: Natural Hair in The Work Place

For the majority of the last 5 years I’ve worn my hair in its natural state every day to work and in that time I’ve noticed that different hairstyles receive different reactions from my coworkers. Now that we are well into the second coming of the natural hair movement, our curls and coils are something of the new norm.

Honestly, I love this. Back when I first decided to go natural I remember I was always one of a few, and constantly got questions and criticism from both strangers and familiar folks. Now, there are a lot more natural girls walking around rocking their fro’s and protective styles so I’m rarely asked anything about my hair. But even with the general acceptance of natural hair in society at large; I find that I, along with a great number of black women, still have apprehension about wearing our hair naturally at work.

You can see men and women with afros in ad campaigns everywhere, movies, TV shows and in the music industry. The natural hair movement has touched nearly every aspect of society but even so, it feels as if black women are still made to seem like anything but normal when in the workplace. I know this isn’t the case in every place of work, but the experiences we are having don’t happen in a vacuum.

Anytime we change our hair it has the possibility to become a day or week-long conversation in the office. For some, the attention may be welcomed but for me, I’d just like to do my work and go home. Not have conversations about how and why my hair does what it does while dodging unwelcomed fingers flying towards my head. Yes, it’s happened and unfortunately, yes they still have all their fingers. I get the most of these encounters or