Battle Royale: My Father, My Hair

by Demetria L. Lucas
*Photo via The Anderson Cooper Show

I had an “interesting” conversation with my father yesterday. Since I left my job in October, he’s become the unofficial manager of my multi-hyphenated career, a self-appointed role he took on after he retired. I enjoy his insight and our light-hearted daily talks as I remember a time where there was a great chasm between us. But over the years, we settled into a very adult-like agreement to disagree, even if I’m honest, we’ve been walking on clichéd eggshells trying to avoid each other’s minefields.

We were doing so well until, an act of seeming betrayal to all we’d rebuilt, he re-declared our war. “It’s your hair that’s holding you back,” he told me yesterday. This was a fact, not an opinion. “You won’t go where you want to go with hair like that.”

Me: Blink. Blink. “What?!”

The “that” he refers to is the tangled fluffy faux-‘fro I weaved in last month. After three years with a perm, I confidently shaved my head (and dyed it platinum blonde) in September to start anew. I did it the weekend I made the final decision to resign from my job and strike out on my own and I lovingly referred to my new look as my “Freedom ‘Fro.” I loved it. He didn’t like it, of that I was sure. But he didn’t have anything nice to say, so he didn’t comment. I respected and appreciated his silence.

By February it had grown significantly and reached a length I found unflattering to my face. Straightening it wasn’t an option for me, neither was braiding it or cutting it. So I went online in search of a batch of hair close-enough to the texture that grows out of my head and added that, since it was the look I was eventually going for anyway.  For me, it solved a dilemma. For him, it was the re-emergence of an old issue, one for which he could no longer hold his tongue.

In our most recent conversation, he referred to my high school graduation photo, the one he carries in his wallet, as my best look, the one I should return to. He seems to have selective amnesia about telling me how that cut broke his heart.

“Why would you cut off all your beautiful hair?” he asked then, near tears.

I didn’t get it. It’s hair. It grows back. And if it doesn’t, I could always weave it up.

  • Jas

    You are not alone! After not perming my hair for three years, I completely understand your struggle. My family and the majority of my friends all have their opinions about natural hair and how it will negatively impact my ability to find a “job”. It my KILLS me!

  • Courtney**

    If your dad believes in god, ask him if he thinks god made a mistake when he made your hair. Ask him what is so horrible about you wearing your hair as it grows out of your head – like non-black people do every damn day. As him if he thinks black features are inferior and/or less attractive than everyone else’s. And then ask him if he wants you to marry and procreate with a white man to ensure that your childrens’ hair is more acceptable to him.

    If all else fails, that last question out to rattle his cage a little and make him have a seat for a good long while. Some black guys – regardless of personal aesthetic preference – have a strong tendency to viscerally oppose BW/WM unions.

  • Blue Ocean Breezy

    My battle with my hair has always been knowing what styles work for me best and a life long battle of other people TELLING ME how to style my hair based on what they find pleasing.

    I had my first relaxer when I was only 11-years-old. I would just put my hair up in a pony tail, because that is all I knew what to do with it. I think some of the worst years of my school life were middle school because kids were always making MY hair the topic of conversation. Remarks that were made to me were, “Why is your hair so short!”, “Why don’t you just get braids!”, “You look like a boy!” and I even had one ‘friend’ tell me I looked like a cancer patient.

    And then there was high school…

    I mostly wore my relaxed hair in a pony tail then, too. People were just never satisfied. 10th grade year, I started wearing ‘tracks’ and I was pretty good at blending it into my own hair, so that it would be difficult to tell that it wasn’t mine, but I remember being in English class and one of my ‘friends’ remarked, “You’re hair grew overnight!”

    My junior year I had gotten my hair in kinky twists for our senior portraits and in class, another student said to me in regards to my kinky twists, “Now I can finally say you look nice.”

    Then, I remember one my ‘friends’ who I knew since 7th grade made a comment to me about having hair or getting my hair done (I can’t remember at this point specifically what she said) as I was walking up to the stage at our high school graduation.

    Even now as an adult, some people are just not satisfied with what I do with my hair. Between my grandmother and mother occasionally making comments about my hair growth when I take my braids out and coworkers at whatever job questioning me about the length of my real hair, telling me to wear my hair down (because it’s what they like), questioning me about why I wear braids or giving me their opinion (that I didn’t ask for) about my style of braids.

    When people state that “It’s just hair”, I have to disagree. As a woman, our hair plays a significant role in our physical appearance, because people make it that way.

    Anyway.

    In relation to the article, natural, kempt hair is on no way unprofessional. I think people have become so familiar with Black women straightening their hair, that for a woman to have natural hair, it’s considered as the abnormal.

  • http://method2hermadness.blogspot.com girlformerlyknownasgrace

    Thank you! Its like, no it si not just hair when every tom, dick and harry got something to say about it.

  • http://gisforgrace.wordpress.com NinaG

    Completely relate. People projecting their insecurities on other people is my biggest pet peeve. Just because you would be uncomfortable looking the way I look doesn’t mean I need to change.

  • http://selfra.blogspot.com dantresomi

    Dag that sux.
    I hear my dad throw alot shade at my sister.
    It’s another reason why i don’t speak to my dad. And yes, my sister has stopped as well.

  • mamareese

    I must admit I had a fear that I couldn’t get a corporate gig with natural hair….an afro no doubt. I was very wrong, when you present and represent yourself in the right manner, it doesn’t matter. Now going to a job with blue, pink, yellow hair now that might mess you up. Alot of women in my profession are naturals and have power play postions. I almost feel like it gives us an advantage, alot of people turn to us for leadership and all…I mean it does take a strong person to rep natural hair.

  • apple

    I saw a picture of you with your blonde shave head and boy are you stunning! I don’t see what’s the problem!

  • Crystal

    Wow.

    I’ve been having a similar disguised battle with one of my parents. Though not about hair but about how I choose to live myself. They are structure, stability, order, and all things in their prim & proper place while I choose a less structure, laidback, go-with-the-flow type of living. I call it organized chaos because it makes sense to me lol. Drives them nuts. I walk to the beat of my own drum while the parent believes you should follow the step of the cadence being provided by life. We have never seen eye to eye on many things in which said parent always responds, “You are just different. You always have been and always will be.”

    Somewhere deep down inside, I believe each parent truly wants to see a small glimpse of themselves inside of their children whether it be something they say, mannerism, temperament, lifestyles, etc. I’m learning that we are all individuals charting this thing called life for ourselves and parents should be happy to know we are happy no matter what decisions we make or courses we chart.

    Great piece, Ms. Lucas!

  • lol

    He’s OLD, why are you surprised? LOL!

    “my mother whose un-permed mane air-dries and waves, instead of kinks, curls, and fluffs. None of those explanations seemed to stick though.”

    You answered your own question.

  • http://www.samechicdifferentday.com SameChicDifferentDay

    LOVE. THIS. POST. I’m rocking a “BAA” as I type, and am also convinced my father’s discomfort with my insistence on wearing my natural texture reveals his inability to accept that “I’m okay with me, relaxer-free.” As you write, it’s his problem, not mine. Great post.

  • Kim

    My mom is the same way. With her it’s about hair length since I’m permed. If I cut my hair she freaks out and says it will either all fall out or not grow back though I’ve cut it off about 8 times and grown it all back (which only takes a year, mind you). It’s an insane obsession but it doesn’t stop there. And, I too, am VERY different from my very conservative mother, though I can be conservative as well, I’m very independent in my thinking and choices. She can’t stand either of things things about me. I just ignore her comments for now.

  • The Taker

    Whoa. I don’t know what I would have done if my father ever came at me sideways about my hair. My father is from the west indies, so I know how they can be sometimes when it comes to natural hair, particularly when the texture is how you described it in the article. My father knows better anyways because he know I will tell him straight. But yeah, that’s messed up. Your father is from a different generation, where if you wanted to be accepted as a minority, you MUST follow suit of the majority. From hair,clothing, vernacular, education,etc… With this generation, more and more of us are tossing out those antiquated ideals and we are starting to march confidently to beat of OUR drum. I think this generation is more confident, secure and bold than the past generations and they are shocked. But I will say only some old…er people from those generations. I have encountered many older folks who have given me props for wearing my hair the way it was naturally meant to be. But honestly, I think you should have a sit-down discussion with your father. Let him know how you feel because even I dont appreciate the way he talking slick to you about being natural. Not Cool.

  • kidole

    For most of my relaxed hair’s life, it was BSL. Two years ago, I BC’d to a cute “boy cute” and my father wasn’t pissed but he definitely let me know that he didn’t approve. My mother had nothing but negative remarks also. I think my “long, beautiful hair” was a sense of pride for my parents. I explained to them that we are different people, see the world differently, I was grown, knew I was beautiful, and never allowed their words or looks to destroy my confidence. Now that my hair has grown back down my back (if pressed out), he thinks I should cut it again!lol

  • kidole

    It always baffles me because most of our parents grew up during and my parents were born in the 70s during the “Black is Beautiful” and “I’m Black & I’m Proud!” renaissance. To see my parents and grandparents in old pictures rocking fros make me proud and then to see and hear their disapproval in our appearance makes me hope that we don’t let this emerging confidence in our beauty become a fad.

  • Djuobah

    Wow you hit the nail on the head!

  • P

    This is all too familiar. My father is a control freak. And while he doesn’t mind my natural (my mother has been natural their whole 38 year relationship) he has definite ideas of what is “acceptable” and what is not. Recently it was length, and the fact that I don’t comb it while dry and into a perfectly shaped round fro. My mother was/is on this kick too, she is at the barber shop RELIGIOUSLY every two weeks, she’s never desired the length I’m working on, and she hasn’t straightened her hair in over 20 years (and that was a one time thing because my sister asked to see it straight). It is frustrating as he knows I’m not gonna enter into any discussion, so now it is all disapproving stares and when he just can’t contain it scathing remarks or rhetorical questions… Such an interesting reality, being brown and woman… smh. Thanks for this article.

  • niki

    I’ve been having this problem with my mother and mother-in-law not with my hair but my daughter. She’s three but she loves to wear her hair out. She has a lot of it and the bigger it is the better she feels. She likes that it bounces all over the place.

    My mother-in-law without my or my husbands consent took her to get her hair straightened not once but twice. I was furious to the point the kids barely see her now. It was the ultimate thing on top a bunch of other things. Her excuse? The owner of the salon’s granddaughter goes to get her hair done there too so she figured it was ok. Even though my husband and I both told her absolutely not to when she asked if she could.

    Most recently, my own mother made a comment about my daughter wearing her hair out in public like that. My mother is natural herself but she keeps it short. I’ve been natural for almost 15 years and its the reason she went natural. My dad just doesn’t like it when I cut it short. He just feels women should have longer hair like chin length or longer. But it’s never been to the point of us arguing over it. He just had to get used to seeing me like that pretty much.

  • niki

    +1000

  • DianeChristina

    So very happy to see on here writing.

    Your piece moved me because I have the exact relationship with my father. He too has a military background and very conservative stance. And since getting older I too do a “woo-sah’ moment with my parents and actually listen but, we can now agree to disagree. Rather than hang up or leave the room. LOL

    But yes I’m unsure why our hair remains a problem to folks. I’m glad we’re of a generation where “well it’s just hair”. And no way has my hair stopped me in any social or professional settings. It’s always a conversation start actually.

  • Huh?

    I can relate to this.

    This is my story. I went full natural last year and my parents hate it. My mother believes that afros or any semblance of puffiness belong to the 70′s. My father has asked my mother to TELL me to perm my hair (I’m 37, btw). Anything that isn’t straightened resembles “dreadlocks” to them AND how two people from the West Indies could look down on locks in any form so much is beyond my understanding.

    Don’t get me wrong. They have been good loving parents. It’s just they failed badly at assisting me with my hair as I was growing up. All they cared about was making sure there was some semblance of straightening even it looked like crap. Over the years, I get the impression my father thinks a relaxer or hot comb will force his miniscule white ancestry to “kick in”.

    I love both my parents but I let them know their self hating hair advice is unwelcome.

  • rw

    their generation went thru fros and to straight, so to see us going thru this now, is odd for them

    i’ve been permed most of my life, got my last perm june 2010, 15 year hs reunion, that sept, dad pulled me aside, and very personally said: u should wear ur hair straight for ur reunion

    after seeing my hair air drying in twists, mom said: so ur gonna look like one of them reggae things

    smh

    dec 2011, i went full fro at christmas, dad asked if i wanted a pick

    and that was that

  • ShiShi

    go head girl! preach. you betta say that!

  • Keep it Real

    Sorry but not all natural hair styles are attractive. I’ve seen some styles that look like the woman went outside and cut on put on an untrimmed shrubbery bush with branches all over the place on her head. Those women would look better with just a plain afro.

    Like it or not almost all men are attracted to a woman’s hair. It’s a woman’s crown (especially a young woman). Which is why some countries go to draconian extremes of making them cover their hair in public. Black men are attracted to the same women and features that all other men are attracted to. Now, you can fight and or rebel against this notion but don’t point your finger at black men as if we’re the one’s with the problem. We’re just being…..men.

  • Keep it Real

    *cut AND put on……..

    Also I’m seeing completely healthy black teenage girls with wigs on their head. You’ve got to be kidding me. lmao I might be wrong but I don’t think any group of YOUNG men of any race are going to green light that.

  • Santana

    “Attraction” isn’t really the issue as the article and entire discussion is about parents and daughters. The writer spoke of her father– no other Black men were mentioned.

    Lovely how on a website for women with articles by women about personal issues faced by women, there’s always a man who wants to show up and talk about what Black men are attracted to as if that is all that should matter at all times to all women.

  • Yb

    “there’s always a man who wants to show up and talk about what Black men are attracted to as if that is all that should matter at all times to all women.”

    LMAO Preach Santana!!!! Some of these men who frequent these sites really overestimate the value of their opinions. Tell ‘em.

  • Keep it Real

    @Santana

    Is it possible what her farther is saying is that he doesn’t think his daughters natural hair style is attractive? Of course not, in that narrow little brain of yours. You think you can change someones opinion by ridicule, marginalization and intimidation, typical. You’ve got the wrong one. Keep it moving, hun.

  • Keep it Real

    @Yb

    My words “Like it or not ALMOST ALL MEN are attracted to a woman’s hair.”

    Interesting how a man shouldn’t have an opinion about an article written ABOUT A MAN’S OPINION. Y’all need to quit. Obviously, if I’d affirmed her opinion I wouldn’t be getting this back draft….. whatever.

  • Keep it Real

    @Yb

    My words “Like it or not ALMOST ALL MEN are attracted to a woman’s hair.”

    Interesting how a man shouldn’t have an opinion about an article written ABOUT A MAN’S OPINION. Y’all need to quit. Obviously, if I’d affirmed her opinion I wouldn’t be getting this back draft….. whatever.

  • Santana

    my intention wasn’t to change your opinion, but to offer my own on what you stated.

    you specifically spoke about men being “attracted.” i don’t think that is relevant to the conversation as lucas and the discussion were largely about family reactions to hairstyles, and some commenters noted that their has was straightened and they still received backlash.

    the author’s father specifically spoke about job potential and mentioned Angela Davis, which I took to mean he thought her hair was militant or made her appear angry.

    the concern here isn’t about whether the parents are “attracted” or not to their daughters’ hair. thus, i found it strange that you would chime in about what random black men the women in the discussion don’t know find attractive. but humor me, do you recommend that they change their hair to please strangers? or should they find strangers who like what they do with their hair and build from there?

  • Santana

    also, are you a father? because the article is specifically about a FATHER’S opinion on his daughters hair, not just any man’s. the commenters have discussed other family reactions.

    i actually would appreciate insight on why family members are so concerned about the hair of their relations as they matter.

    men who are just trying to f$#%!? not so much.

  • cocochanel31

    My parents grew up in the 70′s in the “say it loudd im black and im proud” and each rocked their fros beautifully. My mothers hair is much like Demetria described her mothers, natural and long and wavy..ala Debbie Allan, however her nor my father ever harped on good hair vs. bad hair or hair period. I grew up seeing her rock the short Halle Berry to the long natural Pochontas ponytail..and back short again. I cut my hair really short freshman year of college and both of my parents loved it! My mom always says its just hair it will grow again and if not, so what!! My dad could care less, he’s more into natural looks anyway and as long as it looks good he would never care about the length or texture. It horrifies me that not everyone was blessed with parents who didn’t get caught up in the whole hair is the end all be all to the beauty of a person.

  • binks

    My parents was pretty nonchalant with me when it comes to my hair, when i told them i was going natural they paused at first but now flash forward they think this is the best my hair ever looked…lol however i do face opposition with my hair when it cones to some my professors. They always make it a point to look at me when they give their speech in looking, “appropriate and presentation” for the work environment. Hell i even got the “maybe you should straighten your hair or do something with it before job hunting…” mind you this came from a black female attorney…i just shake my head i don’t know why people think natural hair can’t be professional but like stated it’s their issue not mines

  • Keep it Real

    @Santana

    *you specifically spoke about men being “attracted.” i don’t think that is relevant to the conversation….

    Relevant? Go the fyck away! Who died and made you the determiner of relevance? I made a comment based off the article not the comments of others. If you think my comment is not relevant, keep it moving. There must have been something about it that was relevant enough for you take the time to reply. My opinion is that her father doesn’t think it’s an attractive her style. Attractive can include hair, clothes, body type, mannerism, ect… guess what parents also comment and have opinions on those things to. Like it or not all things equal an attractive appearance helps in getting a job. There are times that what’s not said is as important or more important as what is said especially between family members. Do you really believe the fathers doesn’t have an opinion on what makes his daughter look more or less attractive? Come on! Get your head out your ass. And, that doesn’t mean attractive in a sexual nature.

    *humor me, do you recommend that they change their hair to please strangers?….

    Absolutely! Silly question. Why in the world do you the the hair care industry is a billion dollar business? Newsflash, single women of all races wear hair styles that appeal to strangers….men and women for a variety of different reasons. Married women often wear hair styles that appeal to their husband or at least take into consideration his preference.

    *also, are you a father? because the article is specifically about a FATHER’S opinion on his daughters hair, not just any man’s.

    No I’m not a farther. lol Please just go away. Yeah, this screw the opinion of men, ie white women’s feminist empowerment movement sounds good on paper. But how’s that shyt (strong independent) really working out for black women? The truth is only 18% of black women graduate from college, hun. That leaves 82% of black women who don’t. Black women went from the highest rates in marriage of women of any race pre 1960 to the lowest in 50 years. According to 2011 U.S. Census Black women between the ages of 35 and 44 have the highest rate of singlehood. 31% of African American women by their early forties have never married as compared to only 9% of Whites, 11% of Asian women, and 12% of Latino women in the same age group. You see most of these white feminist women talk a good game but they’re also married and did whatever they had to do (including hair) to get married.

  • Ms. Information

    Case and point of why beauty is such a hard thing for black women…our own daddies don’t want the hair THEY gave us…

  • HowApropos…

    Exactly!

  • TheBestAnonEver, Part 2

    My mother was a little concerned when I decided to go natural. She was unsure how it would work in my field where there are not a lot of women or black people. After I did the big chop, she loved it. Everyone loved it – my then boyfriend (now husband), my parents, siblings, friends, co-workers, bosses, friends. I have not received one negative comment about my hair from anyone (*knock on wood*). I did a ton of research on how to keep my hair moisturized and how to style my hair for 8 months before ending my transition. I also got a really good shape-up that is taking me through the awkward period very well.

    My dad loves anything we, his kids, do, he always says he trusts our judgement. I cannot imagine what it must be like to have my father criticize any part of my physical appearance. I understand parents like this come from a place of love, but that is even more saddening.

  • http://unreasonableexpectation.tumblr.com Malorie

    “I’m an artistic type who believes writing is an occupation, not a hobby (he told me the opposite upon entering college), a habitual line stepper who wants to explore and is frustrated by sitting still for long periods.”

    This is me. I always knew I could never possibly be the only person who felt this way, but it’s nice to be reminded that you have company in your emotions.

    My father sounds like your father. My dad plays the joking route, and is never legit upset about things I do (like chopping my hair twice, and now loc’ing it), but rather makes jokes that express his lack–if even small lack–of understanding about how I express myself.

    As you said, hair is just hair, and it grows back, and at the end of the day, what is most important is that you are pleased with yourself. Regardless of how you look. It’s about how you feel.

  • I call Bull

    I don’t even know why y’all continue to argue with that coon “keep it real.” it’s obvious that he loves white women and hates everything about Black women from our hair to our demeanors and there is nothing u can do about it. Just ignore him hes a troll. All that fool can get from me is a “BYE!”

  • Ms. Information

    @ Keep it Real”

    “Sorry but not all natural hair styles are attractive. I’ve seen some styles that look like the woman went outside and cut on put on an untrimmed shrubbery bush with branches all over the place on her head. Those women would look better with just a plain afro.”

    I get that, but I also get that some permed hairstyles are atrocious and haircuts of black men and other men…I think style is the issue here, not texture. The funny part is that when a black woman acquieses (because our hair isn’t overwhelmingly accepted in its natural state) and wears a weave to look more attractive, guys like you dog us for that too…sooo…

    “Like it or not almost all men are attracted to a woman’s hair. It’s a woman’s crown (especially a young woman). Which is why some countries go to draconian extremes of making them cover their hair in public. Black men are attracted to the same women and features that all other men are attracted to. Now, you can fight and or rebel against this notion but don’t point your finger at black men as if we’re the one’s with the problem. We’re just being…..men.”

    Black men seem to be attracted to what mainstream media tells them to be attracted to. When Puffy dated J-Lo it was Latinas, Reggie dates Kim its whatever she is. Black men are easily manipulated by what they see and seem to be the only men that overwhelmingly reject and dishonor their women.
    Black men loved big Afros and nice shapes in the 70′s, and some black men wrote songs about it and most of them still dated black women.

  • Ms. Information

    @ Keep it Real, white men allowed white women to keep their hair texture without challenging how God made them..also statistics are so weak…..if you are correct about 18% of Black women graduating from college then for Black men it must be .765% because brothers are not graduating in big numbers at all. Examine further why black women aren’t married……….black men are in jail in ALARMING numbers, black men are unemployed in alarming numbers..this also has an effect on the rate of marraige….white women don’t have to deal with these factors.

  • Perfect Stranger

    When I cut my hair off, my mother – and best friend – said I looked ugly. I cut my hear at least 5 more times after that, partly to piss her off and partly because I just wanted a new look. But I’m only now starting to believe that I am not ugly, and only because I stopped measuring myself by her standards and the standards of the (white) malestream. #blackgirlproblems

  • Keep it Real

    Coon….. I’m a Coon!?!! Yeah, ok. Where in the hell are you from? I love black women. I hate hoodrats. Big difference. Whites have white trash and they call it. We want to make everyone the same. I call bull on that. If you’re a rat, you’re a rat. If you’re a bum, you’re a bum.

  • Keep it Real

    Black male college graduation rates are 14%. The other things you say are correct but I always ask. How, why and when. We know black men didn’t always abandon the black family, black illegitimacy was once between 10 to 24% (between 1900 to 1960) and almost every black kid had a father in the home. Seems to me the break down started when black women thought it was ok to start having kids before they had a husband. Black men and women are not having any more nor less sex than men and women of other races. There is a difference between sex for recreation and sex for procreation. No man is going to marry a woman he doesn’t give a shyt about.

  • Keep it Real

    @Miss Info
    *Black men seem to be attracted to what mainstream media tells them to be attracted to

    Black men have always had the same attraction. Zora Neal Huston wrote about it and Farrakhan has spoke about it. It’s just now more acceptable. The afrocentric fad of the 70′s was in response to that. It was a fad because IMO there was no substance to it just talk and symbolism.

  • http://ninasgoodthoughts.wordpress.com Ms. Write

    I shaved my hair down to about an inch four months ago, and I love it. Everyone’s entitled to their opinion, but I don’t have to care. I’ve come to terms with the fact that I can’t–and don’t have to–please everyone, including my parents, friends, and random people on the street.

  • adriane

    Gosh, how can I say this delicately (and respectfully)? If that is a picture of the author on the first page of the article, her challenge to appear “professional” yet creative, is complex, at best. She stands out in the photo as looking more “cutesy going to the club” than “serious, creative business,” regardless of her artistic inclinations. For sure, she could take a page out of any fashion mag and know that she is too full-figured for a bold, blue and white, horizontal stripe flounce dress. Especially in the workplace. Good golly, Miss Molly!! This itsy bitsy blue and white stripe shimmy piece actually exaggerates her hair, making her look less “style” and more “statement.” Even in a creative field like writing, a woman has a vast array of wardrobe options to look elegant, classic and creative — without the corporate dreary. It is possible. Fashionistas do it all the time and in many ways. Consequently, women with natural hair need to find that elegant balance in order to pull off a look that people may not quite be used to — yet. I have big curly hair, but I pull it into a bun when I go to work, regardless of the type of client with whom I am working. I find that big natural hair, while beautiful, soft and sexy, can also be distracting. Politics and naturalaity aside, I simply don’t want to distract anyone from paying me fairly for my work, or from evaluating the good value of my hardwork. Also, the author is dressed far too “baby doll” style for her figure. Her dress is too coquette-ish for her body size. Now, couple this with her hair, and she simply looks unprepared for prime time. In fact, couple all that arm and leg exposure with the big, beautiful hair she has, and she just does not seem professional or serious — or even stylish; unless she was wearing a jacket, cardigan and flats with the piece. In my opinion, the author’s father is just trying to tell her something in a manner that feels outdated. Lots of fathers feel this way about the appearance of natural hair — particularly if they themselves are conservative and that has worked for them. Face it, they’re men. Older men. What do they know about style and beauty? However, take it from a woman with big, curly hair. Pull your hair back and try to dress in a manner that is more appropriate for your body shape. You can do this by being honest with yourself when you look in the mirror from all angles. What is the message you are really sending? Is there anything about your appearance that will leave a question mark over the top of a co-worker/supervisors head? Can you look stunning, stylish, individual and pulled together without having a flashing neon sign on your hair, arms and knees? A very honest assessment of your professional style and how it dovetails with your personal style is key here. It certainly cannot hurt.

  • http://sayjerve.storenvy.com ChariseJerve

    Beautifully Written

    You go girl!

  • Ms. Information

    I agree with you…it does start with women…my grandmother taught nne that black women have the ability to stop much of what has gone on in our community by demanding marraige ….I agree on that point…the out of wedlock baby daddy thing has gone too far.

  • jaclynsd

    Wow Adriane did you really just go in on the writer bit by bit about her whole look?! Sometimes for some people there are no words to their ignorance. This piece was about loving and excepting yourself regardless of others opinions…even the ones of your parents. All I could think when I saw, what looks like a full blow letter, was is this b*tch for real right now?! Sorry for the b word but I’m just in shock that someone would take the time to pick at someone especially when they’re trying to be positive about having love for self regardless of others negative opinions. SMH

  • adriane

    Hi Jaclynsd,

    It was not my intent, at all, to humiliate the author of this article. I felt that my critique limited itself to her overall professional appearance in light of her choice as a Black woman to wear big, natural, hair in the workplace, with a particular focus on job procurement and retention. It is a tough market out here, indeed. I did not respond to anything other than her overall “look.” I imagine that she posted the picture of herself at work for the purpose of critique and self-authentication? Perhaps, however, I am mistaken? Not sure. Nonetheless, I found this component of her story quite authentically executed, by the way. Further, I thought that she posted this article, in part, to field honest opinions and viewpoints from like-minded women, in her same situation, with big, natural hair. I don’t think I said anything particularly degrading, only honest. And, I offered it from the keen viewpoint of someone with a similar hairstyle and body type to her own; someone, who works, in part, as a writer in a similar professional environment. I feel that I could offer her some professional advice. Certainly, she is free to take it or leave it.
    Jaclyn, let me ask you this, however? Why would you use the “b word” against me, another woman in the open forum of an online periodical targeted at Black women’s issues? From time to time I see women in this forum do that to each other; as well as employ perjorative racial slurs against each other. What motivated you to call me that? Is it a phrase you have internalized then deploy against other women if you disagree with them in some way? From where does the need to hurl a gender slur at another woman of color emerge? Just curious.

  • http://www.abelleinbk.com Belle

    Hi Adrianne:

    I did not intend for my picture to accompany the story. I didn’t submit one with my story and the picture is not included on my website or my social media. I didn’t do so particularly because I didn’t want to read posts deconstructing my look. I’m good with what I do, who I am. And I totally respect that you don’t like my look or get it. No harm, no foul.

    Really I just wanted to tap into that feeling that a lot of women have when they don’t meet the approval of someone whose approval they want– whether about hair of another topic– and share my story of finding self-acceptance in the midst of that. But you couldn’t have known that and I do get how you could conclude that I was looking for a literal dressing down.

    I’m a blogger, author and media personality. My “workplace” is either my living room where I do most of my writing, or a stage when I’m speaking/promoting my book or sharing my opinion on the topic of the day. My co-workers are TV hosts and my supervisors (in a sense) are publicists, managers, event planners and producers. I do not seek to work in an office, and when I did, I wasn’t up for one that didn’t get me in all of my glory. Luckily, I found several that did– that not only liked the extra I brought, but celebrated it.

    The idea of looking “elegant” and “classic” or “corporate” makes me shudder, though as you suggest, when I do primetime TV on HLN or CNN, I do tone it down some by adding a ruffled sweater, but never, ever, ever would I wear flats. I proudly don’t own a blazer (or a suit, talk about something that was never made for my body type!) Showing up and making a statement is literally and figuratively what pays my bills— and what landed me at the event where the photograph is taken, daytime TV.

    I consume fashion mags. My motto is “High hair! High heels! High boobs!” I find ruffles and lace joyous, and big ol’ wide stripes, too! My legs are one of my best assets; I show them as often as I can. If you have a similar body type, I implore you to find the freedom to get free too, even if it’s only the weekend. :-)

  • adriane

    Hi Belle,

    Thanks for your free-spirited reply! You do look vivacious and sexy, that is for sure. And your hair is big and beautiful; so the photo does serve you well to showcase your hair and va va voom style. When I went natural, I did a big chop, many years ago, after “fooling” everyone through a decade of texturizers and silkeners. My father is from the old school, and he couldn’t even bear to look at my curly little TWA. When he saw me for the first time go from burned out waist length waves from a texturizer to a scalp revealing mini-fro, he nearly cried. So I get it. With that being said, my hair grew out (huge) and now all is well. And while your look is not “corporate” or “classic,” clearly it serves you well and you look gorgeous. Good luck to you!

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  • Shantell Smith

    I couldnt agree more. My dad told me today in public at Chilli’s that i need to go to the beauty parlor. I thought to myself this isnt the time or the place to talk about this. Especially when most of the people around us were close enough to hear what was said. so i ignored him and kept eating. then a few hours later my mom walks in while i was retwisting my hair to go to bed and went off. she told me I looked and was acting like an idiot w this hair sh!t and that i need help if I dont value the opinion of my father. then she went on and on about how ill never get ahead or get a man bc of my hair…REALLY? sad thing is my did has locs and my mom is natural too! i guess since i wasnt blessed w what they concider “good hair” I cant be natural too!! and they wonder why I have issues! its all good though!
    I look at it like this, its MY hair! i love it! why should I have to change it bc someone doesnt like it. they will get over it and if they dont they are the ones w the issues not me! dont look at me if it bothers you that much!!

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