It’s been five years since I went completely natural. I relied on chemicals (aka relaxers) and hot tools to straighten my hair (especially without a heat protective product) for so long. When I was growing up, there was no debating about hair. I was either doing the straight style or...the straight style. Every event needed a blowout, and if I saw any hint of a curl, I used a straightener immediately. But after spending six months overseas and running out of hair products catered to my hair texture, I began leaving it in its natural state—curls and all. Soon enough, I saw a wave of curls, coils and kinks representation in the media like never before and I vowed then that I would embrace my natural hair in every setting.
While the natural hair movement was gaining momentum, there was still pushback to leave straightening your hair the norm when it came to staying professional. (There was and still are moments when people suggests I do this). But seeing the representation play out and how many have embraced their natural hair despite the critiques (especially in mostly white spaces), gave me the motivation to never straighten my hair to be seen as professional, educated or appropriate for an interview, event or career workshop. To my knowledge, my hair never played a factor when it came to opportunities or being penalized or treated differently (perhaps I’m naïve). Unfortunately, many aren’t so lucky. This is hair discrimination, and here’s why it’s so important to know about it.