‘Can I Touch It?’–Women of Color Discuss Hair in the Workplace

It's day 2 of Eye Opener's Hair Week, and today we are focusing on natural hair in the workplace.

Eye Opener's Laila Muhammad met with a few women who wear their natural hair in different styles to have an open and candid conversation about how they are perceived when they let their natural curls and kinks go free.

"Are you all comfortable wearing your hair the way you have it right now, every day of the week, no matter if you’re at work or around your friends?" Laila asked the group and got a collective "Yes!"

The women shared their individual natural hair journeys, the reactions they get to wearing their natural hair in the workplace and their hairstyle preferences.

"I prefer curly hair because I feel it’s more of my personality. Straight, I feel blah," said Patrice Morrison of Philadelphia, PA.  "When I wear my hair curly, I get people who want to touch it, who want to understand how I get it that way, especially since they saw it really long and straight," she added.

"I had what they called a 'TWA' which is a teeny weeny afro. That’s what I had to walk around with for a few months while my hair grew out and it definitely boosted my self esteem a lot," said Natasha Boyd of Houston, TX.

"In my corporate world I have no problem with adapting. If anything they say my attitude changes. They’re like ‘oh, I don’t like Nadia when she has the straight hair. I like her when she has the curly hair. She’s not as mean,’" joked Nadia Staton of Arlington, TX.

"When I started wearing my hair really curly and big I felt that I had to wear makeup. I don’t normally wear makeup. I don’t know if my hair was going to outdo my face. I felt I had to wear makeup and I couldn’t be myself," Patrice shared.

"Why is natural hair sometimes viewed as offensive?" Laila asked the group.

"I think when people don’t know what to expect their first reaction is to be fearful of it," Nadia said.

"I think when people get used to seeing you a certain way and then you change yourself, it’s like 'what are you doing?'" Natasha added.

"Biggest misconception about your hair?" Laila asked.  "That it feels brittle. When they touch it it’s like 'oh it’s so soft!' I’m like 'what is it supposed to feel like!' it’s supposed to be soft," said Lamonica Williams, a natural hair stylist in Dallas.

"Is it okay for people to ask to touch your hair?" Laila asked the group.

"If you’re a stranger on the street I’m going to look at you," Nadia said.

"I’ve actually had people who have done that! When I’m in line paying for groceries, they put their hands in my head. Oh my god. I feel so violated, so violated," Patrice said through laughter.

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