I Stopped Wearing Weaves And My Boss Told Me My Natural Hair Was “Unprofessional”


A few months ago I stopped wearing weaves. Cold. I wanted to give my hair a break, I guess, but maybe I was also just ready for a change. I stopped relaxing my hair, too, because it was breaking too easily and, anyway, it’s been years since I wore my hair natural, without any type of weave or relaxer or straightening agent in it. Anyone who has relaxed their hair knows that the first few days after you come out of the salon or the bathroom sink with your newly silky hair are magical. Then the new growth starts kicking in and its a lot of work to parse through the new growth and the hair that’s been relaxed.

Typically when you get a weave your natural hair is braided down into little cornrows and the weave gets sewn into your braids like magic. Then, when you take your hair “down” you cut out the sewed in sections, unbraid your hair that has been sitting there braided for two months or more and voila! You’ve got yourself a bomb ass curly afro. Your old hair’s on the floor but your real hair is coming out, ready to breathe.

It’s a sight that has confused many a boyfriend.

Anyway, I last took my hair “down” on a whim, didn’t really have a reason to do it other than I felt like it. My boyfriend stood next to me in the bathroom while I did it, and when I let my natural hair fly he told me I looked so sexy. I washed it and said to myself that I would just go natural for a little while, letting my hair rest.

At the office the next morning my work BFF told me she really loved my new look — it’s sassy! she said. My boss, however, told me it was “interesting,” which is the worst thing you want anybody to say about something you’ve done. “Interesting” is just one step above “hot mess.”

After that she didn’t say anything else to me about my hair, so I just kept to myself. Then about two weeks ago she pulled me aside and told me that my hair, my natural hair, was unprofessional and distracting. Mind you, I do sit at the front desk. I’m the first face anyone sees when they come into the office, so I guess whoever sits there should represent whatever values my boss believes in most. But I was offended that when I was wearing weaves and straightening my hair, everything was cool, all was cool. But somehow wearing my hair natural, the way it grows out of my head, this is unprofessional and distracting? Distracting for whom, and from what?

I wonder if my boss would tell one of my white colleagues that she looked unprofessional, and what it would take, what she would actually have to look like, for her to pull her aside and confront her that way?