5 tips on wearing Natural Hair in the workplace without losing your mind

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This is Monday morning, and this post couldn't have come at a better time.

One of the reasons many ladies have not gone natural is because, even though they love natural hair, they are not sure of how it will fit into the work environment. Well, fret no more, this post is a magic wand sure to solve all your problems. Just follow me, as we work through the steps below.

1. Find out the HR policy of the company you are working at or desire to work, out. 
If you are already working, and thinking of going natural, with the intent to wear your natural hair out, the first thing you should do is observe if there are people doing this amongst your colleagues. If yes, you are fine, else, probe further. Does your company allow people to wear their natural hair out? As funny as it might sound, Berry told us about one Nigerian bank that doesn’t allow their staff to wear their natural hair out. If you are not sure, find out from the HR manager.

If you haven’t started work yet, and you are natural, before you apply for a job, find out if the company allows natural hair on display. There is no use applying for a job you can’t work at because they forced you to relax your hair. When I was applying for jobs in my days, I was on dreadlocks. There were many companies I did not apply to because of my hair. I did not bother applying to banks, cos in those days, dread locks were a no no, I don’t know about now, and I wasn’t ready to cut off my dreads for any reason. I ended up working in a sort-of international global network of firms. On my first day of work, the first thing I did, in front of about 70 graduate trainees, was to ask the HR manager, about their hairstyling policy. I told her I had dread under my kinky braids, and I won’t be able to cover it up forever, so I needed to know if it was allowed. Daring, right? On my first day at work. With hindsight, I now ask myself “what were you thinking?” lol. How did it end? About 3 months later, I started wearing my dreads out, and let’s just say when I left 3 years later, there were up to 10 people on dreadlocks, including managers, but I was the pace setter, and no one stopped me.

In summary, however you choose to wear your hair, find out what the company says about it before you take the plunge

2. Try to make your hair as neat as possible. 
So now, your company doesn’t frown at natural hair, but they are not completely open to it. They are probably watching you, and waiting for you to slip. It is left for you to shut the nay-sayers up by making sure your natural hair is neat and tidy at all times. Don’t give anyone an excuse to bash natural hair. You can choose to see yourself as an ambassador, so conduct yourself nicely. I must confess, when I was working, I didn’t really follow this rule at all times. When I cut my dreads, and started wearing my natural hair our, my hair was mostly in twists. But sometimes, I could allow my head to spin, and decide to go to the office with a crazy fro-hawk, just to see the look on people’s faces. I usually pulled stunts like these on the last Friday of the month, when we have to appear at the office for departmental meetings (we work in client site most times). At one point in time, I did Adimole (didi), which got mixed reactions. People loved it, and many hated it. One of my senior colleagues called me, and said “@ilola, we know you are daring and bold, and don’t send. Everyone knows that, but this (my didi) is too extreme.” Looooll. At least, my boldness gave people courage cos in less than 2 months, about 2 other ladies in the company also did Didi.

3. Don't always use every opportunity to talk about hair 
Okay, you have been allowed to wear your natural hair. People are loving and admiring it. In fact, you are the number one hair idol in your office. That doesn’t mean you should talk about hair all the time, and your 20-step regimen. Remember you are there to do a job. Face your work (Uche Onise), and stop talking about hair, lol. Don’t turn yourself to the office trichologist. If that is what your passion is about, quit your job and go and start a hair care clinic. In the meantime, be nice to your employers, and do what you are paid to do!

4. Don’t be a natural hair advocate or be condescending to ladies with relaxed hair.
You are not a pastor, and your pulpit is not in the office. Everyone has the right to wear their hair in whatever way they please. The fact that you are probably now the hair idol in your company does not give you the licence to preach. Don’t start giving relaxed ladies hundred reasons why they should go natural. You’ll just end up pitching your colleagues against you. If you want to be a natural hair advocate, come to this blog, and drop your comments. We will listen to your advocating sermons. That is what we are here for anyway. So keep that business out of the office environment. Please, read this post for more insights on this particular point.

5. Don't be too defensive when talking about your hair.
The truth is that many of your colleagues will frown at the fact that you chose to wear your hair naturally, and some of them will feel it is their duty to let you know you are not normal. When you experience this, don’t be on the defensive. Don’t return their occasional insults with yours, don’t tell them to shut their trap or mind their business. This is not the time for you to ‘give it back to them’, it only puts you on the same level as them. If you must reply them, be polite about it. Don’t try to educate them (remember point 3). And smile… smiling changes a whole lot of things than you can imagine. Return their remarks with smiles. After a while, they will get the message, and leave you alone.

So these are a few tips on how to wear natural hair in the workplace without losing your mind.

If you have more tips, add them in the comment section below, so we can learn from you, just like you’ve learnt from us.

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  1. thanks. http://www.leeznijis.blogspot.com

  2. Good read, especially tips 3, 4 and 5.

    1. Lol. I see you are more into the character angle.

  3. with the high youth unemployment rate in Nigeria, you actually put your hair first? what did your family think about it? It's great that you finally ended up in an Int'l firm. lol @ didi, no wonder why you got the "most unusual colleague" award. It's a shame that Nigerian companies doesn't allow Nigerian hair, but would prefer non Nigerian and foreign hair. Something needs to be done. They need to get Natural hair advocate or an afro-centric person with a thorough knowledge about Black history in their union because a lot of the policies in Nigeria doesn't make sense.
    already cast my vote. Congratulations on your accomplishments! I wish you continued success


    1. Your comment makes a lot of sense, but laughter got me when you mentioned union. There are hardly unions in Nigeria, and they only exist in all those government companies with thousands of staff like NEPA, NPA, etc. And trust me, Natural hair is not one of the things they will fight for, with all the problems they are facing. Good news is such organisations don't really care how you dress to work.

      But for most Nigerian companies, unions don't exist.


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