Breaking the Stereotypes: Embracing Natural Hair in Professional Settings

If you have natural hair, you may have faced challenges or doubts when wearing it professionally. You may have wondered if your curls, coils, or kinks are appropriate for the workplace or if you should straighten, relax, or hide them to fit in. You may have faced discrimination, microaggressions, or ignorance from your colleagues or employers because of your hair. You may have felt pressured to conform to a Eurocentric standard of beauty that does not celebrate your natural texture.

But you are not alone. Many Black women and men struggle with the same issues regarding their natural hair in corporate America. According to a 2019 study by Dove and the CROWN Coalition, Black women are 1.5 times more likely to be sent home from work because of their hair, and 80% feel they have to change their hair to fit in at work. These statistics show the pervasive and systemic racism in many workplaces and the need for more awareness, education, and legislation to protect natural hair rights.

This blog post will explore some of the challenges and opportunities of embracing natural hair in professional settings. We will also share some tips and advice on how to style your natural hair for work and deal with any adverse reactions or comments you may encounter.

Why is natural hair important?

Natural hair is more than just a physical feature. It is a part of your identity, culture, history, and expression. It symbolizes your resilience, strength, creativity, and beauty. It is a way of honoring your ancestors, roots, and heritage. It is a way of challenging the stereotypes, biases, and norms that have oppressed and marginalized Black people for centuries.

Natural hair is also essential for your health and well-being. It allows your hair to grow without interference from harsh chemicals, heat, or tension that can damage your hair and scalp. It will enable your hair to breathe, retain moisture, and maintain its elasticity and curl pattern. It allows you to embrace your natural beauty and feel confident and comfortable in your skin.

How to embrace natural hair in professional settings?

Embracing natural hair in professional settings can be a rewarding and empowering experience. It can also be a way of educating others and creating more diversity and inclusion in the workplace. However, it can also come with challenges and barriers you may need to overcome. Here are some tips on how to embrace natural hair in professional settings:

  • Know your rights: In some states and cities, such as California, New York, New Jersey, Virginia, Colorado, Maryland, Washington D.C., Cincinnati, Montgomery County (M.D.), Durham (N.C.), Toledo (O.H.), Pittsburgh (P.A.), Madison (W.I.), Denver (C.O.), New Orleans (L.A.), Boston (M.A.), Broward County (F.L.), Lincoln (N.E.), Kansas City (MO), Phoenix (AZ), Tucson (AZ), Portland (OR), Seattle (W.A.), San Diego (C.A.), San Francisco (C.A.), Los Angeles (C.A.), Santa Monica (C.A.), Oakland (C.A.), Sacramento (C.A.), Long Beach (C.A.), Stockton (C.A.), Berkeley (C.A.), Carson (C.A.), Compton (C.A.), Inglewood (C.A.), some laws prohibit discrimination based on natural hair or hairstyles associated with race or ethnicity. These laws are known as the CROWN Act (Creating a Respectful and Open World for Natural Hair) or similar names. If you live or work in one of these places, you have legal protection against harassment or discrimination based on your natural hair. If you don’t live or work in one of these places, you can still advocate for the CROWN Act by signing the petition at
  • Do your research: Before applying for a job or going for an interview, research the company culture and dress code. Look at their website, social media accounts, or online reviews to understand their values, mission, and vision. See if they have any diversity initiatives or policies that support natural hair or other aspects of Black identity. If possible, reach out to someone who works or has worked there before and ask about their experience with natural hair in the workplace.
  • Choose a style that suits you: There are many options for styling your natural hair for work. You can wear it loose or in an updo; you can braid it or twist it; you can add extensions or accessories; you can color it or keep it natural. The choice is yours. The main thing is to choose a style that suits your personality, preferences, and lifestyle. You should also consider factors such as your curl type, length, density, and porosity, as well as the weather, the occasion, and the maintenance required. Whatever style you choose, ensure it is neat, clean, and comfortable.
  • Be confident and proud: The most important thing is to be confident and proud of your natural hair. Don’t let anyone make you feel less than or unworthy because of your hair. Don’t let anyone touch your hair without your permission or make inappropriate comments or jokes about your hair. Don’t let anyone pressure you to change your hair to fit in or please others. Your hair is your crown; you should wear it with pride and dignity. Remember that your hair does not define your professionalism, skills, intelligence, or worth. You are more than your hair; you have so much to offer the world.


Natural hair is a beautiful and powerful expression of Black identity and culture. It also challenges the stereotypes and norms that have oppressed and marginalized Black people for centuries. Embracing natural hair in professional settings can be a rewarding and empowering experience, but it can also come with some challenges and barriers that need to be overcome. By knowing your rights, researching, choosing a style that suits you, and being confident and proud of your hair, you can embrace natural hair in professional settings and create more diversity and inclusion in the workplace.


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