HAIR-Brained Comments in the Workplace

Now I’ve heard many eyebrow-raising comments while sitting in my cubicle, but by far the most have been about my hair. As a Black woman, I choose to wear my hair “natural”. And for those who may not understand that term, “natural” is when you do not have a relaxer/perm and you don’t use products that alter the chemical makeup of your hair.

Anyone who knows me knows that my hair (whom I have affectionately named Chaka), is rebellious, yet versatile. Sometimes I wear my hair straight, sometimes I wear it curly. But, however I choose to wear it, it never fails to draw spectators in the office. Here are a few comments that have given me pause in the workplace.

“How do they stick to your head?”

This was said to me when I sported the cornrow style you see above. I thought I lived in a world where everyone knew what these were but alas, I was wrong. For the record, cornrows are a style of braid (originated in Africa) that are plaited tightly to your scalp. They’re like mini French braids. But when I wear them I am mistaken for a magician who has somehow abracadabra-ed my hair into sticking to my head. But that’s OK, I don’t mind appearing mysterious.

 

“They look like snakes!”

In the summer, I rarely wear my hair straight because the second a drop of perspiration touches my scalp, it’s over. Two-strand twists are the easiest thing for me to do on my own. I wash my hair, put in some conditioner and a soft gel, twist it, roll it up at night to let it dry, and voilà. I’ve had a range of reactions to these but the most memorable has to be this comparison to snakes (to which I was quick on my feet with “Don’t touch or they’ll bite!”…which wasn’t totally an empty threat).

 

“Oh my God! What happened?”

Just what every woman wants to hear when someone sees her with a new hairstyle. This was the reaction I received from one of the higher ups at my current job. My hair had been straight the day before so I guess I took her by surprise. She literally stopped in her tracks and threw her hands up like she had just encountered a tiger (to be fair, my hair CAN be a beast sometimes). I just didn’t think the change was drastic enough to warrant a surrender stance.

 

“Your hair looks so much better like this”

If you need an example of a backhanded compliment, here you go. I’m willing to bet that every “natural” has heard this. I’ve been told by several hairdressers that I should get it relaxed because it would be so much easier. (I’ve even been banned from two Dominican salons.) And maybe they’re right, but I like my hair in its natural state (difficult she may be) and I still have the option to use a hot comb or flat iron if I want more versatility. But I hate it when someone implies that they don’t think my hair looks as good in its natural state. If you want to pay a compliment, just say “I like your hair” and keep it moving.

 

“You left a roller in there”

OK this one may be my fault. Sometimes I ride to work with a couple of rollers in my hair for a little last minute encouragement for droopy curls. I always take them out as soon as I park…except for a few isolated incidents when one of them hides from me in the abyss. At least I have friends at work that will point it out before too many people see me. Did I mention that most of my rollers are hot pink? Yikes!

 

There you have it folks. Those were some of the most hair-raising comments I’ve heard in the office (pun intended). If you see someone around your office whose hair looks interesting to you, here are some Do’s and Don’ts to help you navigate the situation:

  • DO be quiet – If you don’t have a compliment for them, it’s OK to keep your thoughts to yourself. I’m sure your coworker did not style his/her hair for your approval.
  • DON’T throw up your hands like you’re being held up in a bank. Believe it or not, that behavior can make someone a little self-conscious.
  • DO ask questions – I don’t mind questions from people who have genuine curiosity but if you feel yourself starting to say something like “Oh no, what happened?”, resist.
  • DON’T touch. This advice could save you the heartache of losing a limb.

Feel free to share some of your hair-related experiences in the comments below!

P.S. Shout out to my stylist Tonji at: More Hair Salon

R. Alexandria

 

Author: R. Alexandria

Since graduating college, I have had the honor/horror of working in publishing, which means that I am surrounded by creative and passionate individuals. The most valuable lesson I have learned is that “creative” is only a stone’s throw away from “crazy”. I’ve just about seen it all from my various cubicles over the years…from physical altercations to mental meltdowns. I created this blog to share with you some of the most hilarious, insane, frustrating, annoying, helpful, inspiring, and disgusting moments I have experienced in the workplace. I’ll also provide some tips should you ever find yourself in similar situations. These anecdotes reference situations from past and present (uh oh!) office positions. Names have been changed to protect the crazy innocent. Enjoy!

23 thoughts on “HAIR-Brained Comments in the Workplace”

  1. ‘Oh my god what happend’ made me laugh so much and is actually my favourite style out of all of them! As a woman who has spend most of her life in search of volume, fighting for lift and battling against the will of my ‘stick to the forehead its so straight and flat’ hair I am insanely jealous! I once got curls to stay in for a whole day by dousing it in setting solution and mousse, setting it in curlers for no less than 18 hours and turning it into a rock hard crisp with most of a tin of hairspray. I looked amazing! But it’s too much effort! I love your natural hair! Never change it!

  2. Thanks for sharing this information. My wife and I were just discussing this over the past weekend. She usually goes through the same issues at her job. Unfortunately, some people are just naive.

  3. I’ve definitely experienced most of these situations. It’s crazy that people don’t naturally have more common sense and courtesy – but at least you’re here to teach them! Beautiful hair pics, and, as always, GREAT advice!

  4. I think I’ve been quite lucky in that I haven’t experienced too many situations like this when I wear my natural hair to work. However, I have had some colleagues seem really intrigued by the styles. Sometimes they like to touch, but I don’t mind so much, so long as they ask me. However, my sister works in the city in London, and she’s experienced most of these situations.

    It so surprising the comments that come from people regarding our natural hair, and it’s quite sad too. For example, people tell you your hair looks better when it’s long and straight, or saying that your twists resemble snakes! Sometimes it really is best for those people to be quiet if they have nothing nice to say.

    I think you have great hair, and it’s nice to see that you’re embracing your natural hair. All the best! 🙂

  5. Your hear is beautiful and as long as you like it and feel comfortable with it then cool. I do all kinds of things to my hear also but what other people rhink about it is none of my business everyone is intitle to their opinion even if their opinion is wrong.

  6. Wow! It’s crazy to think that in 2017 there are still people who speak without thinking. I understand that some people have no experience with natural hair and may not understand that it can be one way today and completely different tomorrow, but some of these remarks had to have sounded silly in their brain. Then again, maybe not. Great post! Thanks for sharing!

  7. Hi, Rhonda! Thanks for sharing. You definitely made me smile…and also helped me pause and consider the DOs and DONTs when it comes to comments about others’ hair. Hair does get a lot of attention, does it? I guess it’s one of the first things we notice about someone after their face…so there ya go! Keep up the backbone 🙂

    P.S. Your hair looks GREAT in ALL the pics 😉

  8. People can’t just mind their own business isnt it? Don’t change, you ate beautiful on your own natural ways, justbecause they are not comfortable with their own skin, doesn’t mean they should make you uncomfortable too. Just smile to their negativity, it will kill them. 😊

  9. “heartache of losing a limb” lol you killed me!
    People can be so annoying, esp those that just get a kick from asking stupid questions and/or trolling….but you keep doing what you’re doing 🙂
    Your hair looks great either way…and exactly what I was thinking about that “compliment”, I experience something similar when people tell me “you would be so hot if you had some meat on your bones!” lol I hate it

  10. I think it’s just about being respectful of each other. I am not the type that judges people so I wouldn’t say any of those things! I also know not to touch people – that’s crossing boundaries of personal space!

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