Microaggressions Against Natural Hair

New York and California are the only two states that ban race-based hair discrimination in the workplace. These POC professionals opened up about microaggressions they've experienced.

Black women suffer more anxiety around hair issues and spend more on hair care than their white peers

New York and California are the first two U.S. states to ban race-based hair discrimination. This is an experience that many have had in the workplace. Black women are almost twice as likely to experience social pressure at work to straighten their hair compared to white women according to the Perception Institute. The potential for ‘hair biases’ to limit both perceptions of self and opportunities in the workplace has a distinct effect on black women. Amid a growing natural hair movement among black women, can the science offer any solutions that can help reduce bias and promote positive perceptions of natural hair both for women themselves and among others who see them?

Black women are 80% more likely to alter their hair to meet social norms at work, and 50% more likely to be sent home or know a black woman who was sent home because of her natural hair. Some key findings confirm that black women suffer more anxiety around hair issues and spend more on hair care than their white peers. They are almost twice as likely to experience social pressure at work to straighten their hair compared to white women. Studies like The Perception Institute also concludes that “White women demonstrate the strongest bias — both explicit and implicit — against textured hair.” They rated it as “less beautiful,” “less sexy/attractive” and “less professional than smooth hair.” However, white women who are in contact with black women “naturalistas” demonstrated lower levels of bias. Given that white women make up a large majority of the 38% of female managers who decide what looks are appropriate for work, legal conflicts sometimes ensue.

The bottom line is that time, society shifts and cultural integration in the workplace along with more mainstream media, TV and movie appreciation of natural hair will ultimately move the needle forward towards wider acceptance to a point where these biases may be eroded or untaught.


08/02/2019 12:03 PM
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  • Ivana A.
    07/29/2019 19:43

    Everything stands, but this girl said “reintroducing yourself cause you didn’t recognize me cause I changed hairstyle” hahah I’ll reintroduce myself over and over again, when you change your hair, make up, clothes and when you take off your sunglasses

  • Anke P.
    07/29/2019 21:14

    is this really racism if s.o. doesn't recognise you because you changed your hair??? It's normal. People do not recognise others if they chance parts of their aspect. If you don't wear the uniform you have in your workplace... If you've lost or gained weight...if they meet you in a totally different place than expected... yes, and also if you've changed your hair, even the colour of it. This is normal for everyone. I've experienced it, I'm white, i didn't feel embarassed. I just took it as a feedback that showed me that I looked different. That's all.

  • Dee S.
    07/29/2019 23:42

    Coming from Asia, I must say only in the western countries it seems that racism exist just because of hair.. do people really get racism slurs there just because of their hair?

  • Regina S.
    07/30/2019 00:22

    Love your HAIR! There are 97 verses in the Bible about the importance of Hair. For the Civil War and WWI the Shaman Indians were hired for the power of their hair.

  • Acharya H.
    07/30/2019 08:10

    New badge

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