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Afro hair: High fashion or messy?

WITH THE natural hair movement well on its way, is it possible that some women of colour feel excluded?

Is there a space for professional women of colour to embrace their natural textures to the fullest extent or can natural hair only be funky, political, creative or high fashion?

As a young woman finishing a Masters degree and preparing to enter the workforce post-‘big chop’, I was not only faced with the ‘will I get a job soon?’ question but also with the ‘will anyone hire me with an afro’ rhetoric every woman of colour seems to con- sider before she goes natural.

Even though I have now found myself in a work en- vironment that makes me feel comfortable about my hair choice, there are still a number of women who would love to embrace their natural textures but are either afraid of looking out of place in a professional environment or have concerns of how to style their hair so it looks ‘appropriate’.

While this is the umpteenth article about how women of colour are not accepted in corporate society be- cause of something that grows naturally from their scalp, maybe the best way to shake the status quo of what is deemed as acceptable is to introduce a new concept that corporate society has never considered before.

Maybe, just maybe, by the stroke of being qualified and raising a fist to India Arie’s I Am Not My Hair, natural textures can be given a cubicle in the office of acceptable hair.

No major change has been made without a fight... and by fight I don’t mean throwing your afro picks and hair sprays at your HR manager in protest.
It’s now time for women of colour who truly do desire to wear their hair in its natural state to stop hiding un- der wigs and weaves and let that afro breathe.

Disclaimer: We are not weave-shaming!

Now women, don’t get me wrong, every workplace has different standards. I wouldn’t tell a judge to blow-dry her hair out into a one foot wide afro and stick her ceremonial wig on top! No!

We women of colour have a major role to play in chal- lenging ideologies held when it comes to what black hair represents.

Today, wearing afro textured hair represents confi- dence in one’s heritage, the choice to live a healthy lifestyle free of harsh chemicals or, sometimes, just something new.

It is all about understanding your hair texture and styling it in a way that matches your personality and occupation.

The more your understanding grows, the better you’ll be at getting those kinks and curls ready for work, and within no time, a wash-and-go finger twist with some styling custard would be just as quick as clip- ping in your U-Part wig and laying your edges right.

The more women of colour rock their braid outs, twist outs, flat twist up-dos, buns and side sweep twists, the more managers, co-workers and employers in an interview room will accept the idea that afro hair is here to stay and afro textured hair can be professional too.

But what’s a revolution on hair ideologies without knowledge? If you’re thinking about rocking your nat- ural hair to work, here are a few styles you could try:

The Teenie Tiny Fro: At this stage, ladies, the most you can do is keep your hair moisturised and shaped nicely. The Mazuri Shea Butter Naturals Leave In Oil Moisturiser is great for this. Simply rub the product evenly through your hair, then tease and shape with a comb or pick. The Mazuri Edge Wax can also be used in this style to achieve slick back edges with less flyaway hair.

The Twist Out/ Braid Out/ Bantu Knot Pull Down:
To achieve this style all you need to do is use a prod- uct that is going to give you hold while moisturising your tresses at the same time, like Mixed Roots Curl Stretching Custard. Apply a generous amount of the product to hair, root to tip, before twisting, braiding or putting sectioned hair into bantu knots. Spray an oil- based product onto hair after to add extra moisture and sheen such with the Mixed Roots Curl Refresher Finishing Spray.

The Classy Bun: Everyone knows how to do a bun, right? Well, in case you don’t, no worries. All you need to do is pull back your hair into a ponytail. The Mazuri Shea Butter Naturals Styling Jelly is great for control- ling frizz without making your hair flake. Finish off the look with Mazuri Oil Sheen and you’ll be out the door and off to your 10 ‘o’clock meeting in no time.

Still not sure what to do? Visit Dionne Smith Hair on Instagram for more styling tips.

[All photos by Desmond Murray]

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