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Curly Hair in the Workplace

An hour before I went to my most recent teaching interview and scored the sweet job I am so lucky to work at now, I was planted in front of the computer, frantically searching appropriate curly hairstyles. To be honest, in the past, I usually pulled it back into a low ponytail because a) I wasn’t following the Curly Girl Method and frankly, my hair was a brushed-out bit of crazytown, and b) for some reason a lot of my interviews have seemed to land on warmer days. In any case, this was my big chance to make an impression – one I was putting a lot of pressure on because, in Ontario, the chance of getting a teaching job is slim to none. If we’re all being totally up front here, I considered this to be my ‘one last go’ before switching careers.

So, the scene is set: Google images of curly hairstyles pop up, and of course most of them are manicured, wedding and prom-style photos. Not helpful. So I try searching ‘professional curly hair’ for the very first time in my life, and am assaulted with a barrage of sites telling me to straighten my hair for the interview! I furiously click through several pages of this dribble. As someone who now refuses to straighten or use heat styling (aside from a cool diffuser every once in a while), changing the shape of my locks that soon before an interview was not an option. I panicked, pulled my hair back in a high crazy ponytail, and hoped for the best. I did indeed get the job, I received multiple hair compliments from my employer and co-workers, and regretted nothing about how I left my hair. This issue, however, still wrankled.

Straight-haired Jess...a sign of the Apocalypse if ever there was one. Also, what I'm glad I DIDN'T do for my interview. Ain't nobody got time for that!

Straight-haired Jess…a sign of the Apocalypse if ever there was one. Also, what I’m glad I DIDN’T do for my interview. Ain’t nobody got time for that!

Although this has fueled some ideas to create a post later on discussing the ‘history’ of curly hair, I feel like that would sideline the point I’m making here: is it not ridiculous that people would judge a natural hairstyle as ‘unprofessional’? Who determined the aesthetics of being professional, from a hair point of view? In my belief, if it’s well taken care of, and obviously a clean, gorgeous source of pride for the owner – who’s to say that straight is better? I’m curious to know your thoughts and experiences, curly people – have you ever felt pressured to force your hair into a different style for work? Does it ever make you feel self-conscious to have a mane of spirals in a more subdued work atmosphere?



  1. sch100

    Im so glad you didn’t listen and kept the curls! For years the only advice the internet and the people around me could give for managing curls was “just straighten it” which is so sad. You hair is gorgeous!

    • Jess A

      Thank you very much! I know, it was a frustrating anthem growing up. Recently, I was in a wedding party, and the girl doing my hair looked about ready to strangle me! She asked what I wanted done and I said “DON’T straighten it!”…it was supposed to be a romantically-themed wedding, so I thought curly hair pinned up would be perfect. What does she do? Straighten my hair, and then re-curls it! I couldn’t believe it!

  2. This spoke to me. I actually did straighten my hair before job interviews in the past, because I thought my curls made me look younger and I thought people wouldn’t take me seriously. Everyone always says curls are so playful and fun looking and that’s not the impression you want to make at a job interview lol. I used to feel self conscious. But then I said screw it. And now at my current job, people ask me hey what time do you wake up in the morning, how long does it take you to curl your hair? LOL… nope all natural.

    • Jess A

      I’m so glad you fought the power and started wearing it natural! I think it’s so much more gorgeous, and you totally proved the point that straight-haired people can be very envious of how awesome curls are 🙂

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