Op-Ed: Hairstyles in the Workforce, Big Deal or Not?
by ATFDC Contributor Barbara Collins
After hearing the words “You’re hired” from your manager, he or she begins to tell you what is allowed in the work area as far as piercing, tattoos, and even hairstyles go. Why? The way we style our hair today says many things about our character. Some hairstyles are associated with different fashion trends, cultural statements, and expressing your personality. Also, a lot of times hairstyles can translate into different interruptions. However, why are hairstyles so important in the workforce?
The most important reason is image. Image is everything especially when working in the military and government. The way you look represents your company and first impressions are based off of what people see visually. Being aware of what your appearance reveals about you is vital. To avoid negative interruptions, companies want conservative and classic hairstyles that speak positivity. Experimenting with colors like pink or purple is out of the question and sometimes wearing dreads or braids is not allowed either.
Personally, I think there should not be huge restrictions on how you style your hair. If your hair is neat and put together nicely, then why not accept it? Society paints a picture of how everyone should look and the media puts long, straight hair on a pedestal for women. After watching Chris Rock’s 2009 movie, Good Hair and learning what ingredients where in the products I was using, I went natural. Yes, I am happy nappy but according to society, the natural look for African American women is not always accepted. However, I do agree that certain hair colors should not be allowed, depending on where you work.
Like our ATFDC contributor Beth Beru said, “I’m all about individual creativity and self-expression. No one person should be judged or dismissed… Fashion is an opportunity to express yourself. Whether it’s your clothing, shoes, accessories, hair or tattoos, they all help make-up your fashion sense. Limiting one’s fashion…now that should be against the law.”
Barbara is a sophomore at Old Dominion University, majoring in International Studies with a minor in Fashion Merchandising. She also writes for CocoKouture Magazine and would love to pursue a career in the fashion industry as a writer for a top fashion magazine.