I was born with hair, and lots of it! When I was little my mom told me that other women would KILL for hair like mine. As I grew older, I noticed all of the popular girls had straight and mostly blonde hair. But I continued with my dark, curly, and sometimes unruly hair (and I was proud of it).
Then, when I was 26 years old, and in the early stages of my professional career, my human resources director called me in for a meeting. She proceeded to tell me that my hair looked unkempt and even unprofessional. She then inquired as to whether I ever went to the salon for a professional deep conditioning treatment or other services that would make me look more put together and like I hadn’t just rolled out of bed. I knew immediately that her words were wildly unprofessional and asked if the company was willing to pay for such treatments. She began to back-peddle, and the conversation ended abruptly.
While I left knowing I had won the battle I was left with this nagging feeling that I was somehow less than. Shortly after that I started straightening my hair, getting regular keratin treatments and abandoned a part of me that to this point had been a defining characteristic.
Over the years my husband and close friends have asked why I abandoned my curls. I would joke about how when I get up in the morning, I look like I’ve stuck my finger in an electrical outlet and how it’s just so much easier wearing it straight!
Then I had a daughter, who was born with hair, and lots of it. But thank goodness it was straight! Then, around her first birthday it started to curl. And then it got long and even more curly. And it was so beautiful. I fully believe that the things we do speak louder to our children than the things we say. And every day I watched her watch me blow dry my hair and spend an hour straightening it and getting it “just right.” It occurred to me that her witnessing me execute this process every day might lead her to believe that she was somehow also less than and that her curls were something to be ashamed of. She is only 2 years old. So, this past Sunday I ditched the straightener, grabbed the curl enhancing shampoo and conditioner and have fully embraced my natural self. I feel empowered. I feel beautiful. And as far as I can tell my work has not suffered.
Last night my daughter grabbed my hair, looked me in the eye and said “beautiful.” Hearing that was all I needed to know I had done my job, and I was fulfilled.
Throughout my daily life, I’m thankful to guide clients, candidates, colleagues, family, and friends in a similar way. To help educate others about the beauty in our differences – whether it’s our hair, our skin color, our sexual orientation, our age, our thought processes, life experiences, etc. Curls, straight hair, no hair, whatever! Our differences are what make us beautiful.