Thursday, 28 March 2013

Mrs Obama & Professional Hair: Weave v.s Natural Debate at The Southbank Centre

Debate at The Southbank Centre

Unfortunately I was unable to attend the Women of the World Festival at The Southbank Centre a couple of weeks ago. Although there were 3 days worth of events the main one for me would've been the Weave vs Natural Debate, organised and hosted by Journalist Hannah Poole.
The panel was fantastic and included:

Eva Simpson (Jounalist for The Mail On Sunday)
Keysha Davis (Editor of Black Hair Magazine)
Funmi Fetto (acting Beauty Director of Tatler Magazine)
Natalie Clue (Blogger of Beauty Pulse London) 

Luckily for those of us who were unable to be there, a video of the highlights is available on youtube. Check it out:

Having watched the highlights, I felt the discussion about Michelle Obama and the "Unwritten rules" of how to wear your hair for a job interview, were particularly interesting.

What's up with Mrs Obama's Hair?
It got me thinking what if Michelle Obama did have locs?
This was quite and interesting and exciting thought for about 15 seconds, and then I thought "so what?" and then as I began to write on this topic, I realised Im torn between both lines of thought.

Although Michelle Obama's hair may not matter so much to me personally, there are a lot of people to whom it would be an issue, and it's their thoughts that would interest me, possibly more than the hair itself.
Not only would I expect some white people to be horrified, I also expect a lot of black people would be too, and probably be twice as critical. Just think about some of the things other black women have said about celebrities such as Solange Knowles or Venus Williams, a lot of which was from women with natural hair! It's so depressing to see people drag each other down instead of helping to raise each other up.
I'd like to think that any negative comments that would likely surface, could be the launch pad for some wider, and hopefully informative debates, helping to educate people on why natural hair is just as acceptable for black women as it is for any other race of females.

The photoshopped image that went viral last year
However, until people come to accept natural hair just as much as any other, it will be a big deal whenever a celebrity decides to go natural; and I do feel its incredibly important to have people to look up to and especially inspirational figures that as a black women, can be identified with.

Ideals of beauty are often subject to influence, and consequently I strongly believe that see other women with natural hair, in celebrated positions, helps black women to recognise the the beauty of their own hair.
So in all honesty, yes I would care if Michelle Obama went natural, purely because I would be proud of the fact that I'd share just a bit more in common with someone whom I already admire.
Angela Davis vs Nicki Minaj (and Ashanti)
As for the "Unwritten rules" of natural hair and professionalism. I totally agree that they exist, and I think Natalie explained it perfectly. 
I find it funny when people ask whether someone would feel comfortable turning up to a job interview with a huge afro. My personal preference for professional styles is to tie my hair back. It was the same when I had weaves/ relaxed hair in an office environment.
Having natural hair doesn't mean you have to walk into a corporate environment like this...

Just as a weave wearer is not necessarily going to turn up looking like this....
or this 
I agree with Funmi that rightly or wrongly we are often judged by our looks and a lot of women are especially conscious of their professional appearance. I just hope that people will consider the idea that a professional "hair-do" can be defined but a professional "hair type" cannot be.


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