Natural hair has been a hot topic recently. Women of color have been saying bye bye to relaxers and embracing their natural curls left and right. But there are still some who say that natural hair has no place in the academic and professional arenas. I’m in medical school and I would be lying if I said I didn’t feel the stares and hear the “ahhs” every time I let my hair do its thing. In my class of about 170 students, there are two black girls and we both have natural hair. I know, from experience, that it is a struggle to find inspiration and encouragement to wear your hair the way it naturally grows in a not so curly circle so I decided, along with my friend Kimyra, to document our natural hairstyles to show any little girl aspiring for greatness beyond amazing Instagram pictures that rocking her natural hair in professional circles, even those that require white coats, can be done and it’s a beautiful thing.
When prompted to talk about her thoughts on natural hair in the professional world/medical school, Kimyra said:
“Natural hair should be totally acceptable in the professional/medical community. Honestly, I think it is absurd that we even have to have a discussion on natural hair in professional settings. As long as it’s clean and well kept, no one should have an issue with it. The style in which an individual wears his/her hair does not correlate with their level of work ethic. AT ALL. If we really begin to dissect this topic, it sounds absolutely ridiculous. Our natural is basically frowned upon for being just that: “natural.” We have no control over the way our hair grows out of our scalps, however, we are sadly “penalized” for it. Often times, employers/school administrators, many of whom are Caucasian, do not understand people of color and natural hair. It is likely that they do not care either. However, I do not think that my aforementioned statement is a valid reason to not wear our natural hair. There are many little girls who wear their hair just like mine currently growing up with complexes about their hair. It is important to embrace our natural beauty to help break down societal barriers that are in place to discourage little girls of color. Those little girls need to see women who look like them in the corporate world, the medical community, and professional settings in general. They need to see us. Not only do they need to see us, they need to see us unapologetically embracing the beauty of our hair and celebrating being confident Black women.”
As for my thoughts, I love my hair. I love it because it’s me. I will say that I interviewed for medical school with straight hair and that is a shame because I know that many people look down on natural/big/curly/afro hair like my own. I was even afraid during the first few weeks to let my curls out and wore them in a bun. Noticing that there were only seven black students in my class, however, I felt a need to represent myself and who I really was. And BOOM! I’ve never gone back. I get compliments even on my worst hair days because my hair is unique and beautiful. Women across the board feel the need to change themselves to fit the norm. Natural hair doesn’t fit that norm and so many people say that we should straighten or hide our hair so as to make other people comfortable. In my experience, however, very few people are actually uncomfortable with my hair. Friends of different races love my hair and are actually shocked to hear that it isn’t always looked upon with affection. Black women grow up thinking that our natural hair isn’t good enough or pretty enough and so a lot of the negativity we feel towards our hair is self-inflicted. I won’t say that there aren’t crazy people who let their ignorance about afro-textured hair project all around them but I feel that one of the biggest problems in the black community has to do with loving ourselves and teaching our babies to do the same because I know that as a child I didn’t like (much less love) my hair at all. Now, I’m flipping my fro everywhere I go. My hair does what it wants. It’s wild and free and everything I want to be.
Thanks for reading and sharing lovelies. Follow Kimyra and tell her I sent you!!! XX!