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A Word About Hair

I laugh as I write this title, because hair is a topic about which volumes could be written, particularly when it comes to how we wear our hair at work. For me, this is another aspect of my life that I try to automate as much as possible, but my hair is naturally curly, so it took a long time reckoning with the way my hair naturally looked and being happy with it before settling on wearing it that way.

But hold on, you may say, because on so many of my posts, my hair is straightened. Well, you're very astute, because I straighten my hair for work. Believe it or not, my hair, and the hair of many other women, has been a topic of conversation in workplaces across the country. When I wore my hair curly, there was some conversation about whether it would be more professional for me to wear my hair straight. Someone in my family mentioned a female C-suite executive she worked for who straightens her hair every time she has a big meeting. For whatever reason (and I have my theories, but I'll leave them for another time), straight hair is considered more professional than curly hair. At one point I accepted this and I now straighten my hair regularly.

Business owners and employers should take note, though, that this an issue that is particularly challenging for women and people of color. The more textured your natural hair is, the harder, more expensive and more damaging it is to have it straightened. What comes naturally to some comes at great personal and financial cost to others, just to start out on the same playing field as others. This was covered very well by Jessica Williams in a segment for the Daily Show, pointing out how the dress standards for women in the military don't work well for black women. If you want to make sure you have a truly inclusive workplace, this is one of the areas you should consider in your dress code. In addition, in New York City, we now have gender-neutral dress code regulations, so you can't say women must wear their hair one way, and men another. What's good enough for one must be good enough for another.

As I mentioned, I try to automate this, so learning about my hair and how to properly care for it was a must, because as it turns out, having curly hair means you shouldn't just go buy any hair product off the shelf at the drugstore and call it a day. I cannot recommend the website Naturally Curly enough. You can learn about how to test your hair to know exactly what hair type you are, what products work best with it, and how to style it. By doing so, you'll find out the quickest and easiest ways to style it.

I've talked about this in one of my career workshops as well. When you're going for a job interview, I urge every woman to wear her hair the way she prefers, and if the company she interviews with doesn't like it, then it's a good sign she wouldn't want to work there, anyway. Of course, when you've got bills to pay you'll do quite a lot to get the job, and I can't really throw that stone since I'm currently not wearing my hair in a natural way each day. But I sincerely hope that as more women get to the top - and when they do, they wear their hair natural - we can make the world a more inclusive place for hair.

Time for you to weigh in - do you think a lot about hair? What are your tips and tricks? Leave your comments below, and make sure to head (get it?) over to Instagram for a bonus pic, wherein I confess that I went through a great deal of product (and yes, money...) to find my perfect hair routine.

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