The good and bad hair argument still exists today and is a major topic of discussion among African American women. From Spike Lee’s “School Daze” film in the 1980s and with the help of Chris Rock’s documentary Good Hair, America is more informed about this subject. Rock investigated the process of creating the various textures and styles of hair in his project, but the root of the film started with an idea when his young daughter asked him about her hair.
We sport our hair in all styles, colors and hair textures to represent who we are in all areas of life, including our careers. As years passed, some professions relaxed their views on how black women style their hair, while others still perceive black women who wear their hair naturally as unconventional and even unprofessional. Some women obey the rules of the game to advance in their career paths, while others create their own guidelines.
Broadcast Journalist Rochelle Ritchie of WPTV-TV in West Palm Beach, Fla. recently made headlines when she made “The Big Chop,” an exclusive on her personal decision to “go natural.” Ritchie says she made the decision in February 2010 after she saw and admired a lady with natural hair in the salon where she gets her styled.
“Hair is important because of my job and plays a factor in my overall appearance,” she says. “I was tired of spending all of this money for my hair. I wore a wig, but I felt like that was a cover-up.”
Ritchie admits that when she started her career six years ago, a fellow black female anchor suggested that Ritchie should add extensions to her hair, which Ritchie says she wore for fun while in college. The young journalist took the veteran’s advice and received more job offers after she made the decision to change her hairstyle.
Afraid to alter her hairstyle because of her career, Ritchie approached her producer with her decision, which she says the producer thought would actually make for a great story idea and some co-workers thought made her look more professional after her transformation. Ritchie wrote, edited and produced her story, which had 75,000 hits in two weeks and averages 40,000 hits a month on YouTube.
“This process was an intervention by God and whatever I do next, I will be accepted,” Ritchie adds.
The region of the country may also play a role in how people view the natural look, according to Ritchie. In more conservative areas, she says older people may frown upon it more than younger generations. Ritchie cites other black female journalists, such as Tonya Mosley and others who choose to adorn their crown of glory naturally.
“People are listening to what I have to say,” Ritchie says. “I feel more professional and not like a supermodel. I got in this business to be heard and not to be looked at. It’s 2011, and it’s time to look at what people can do and not what they look like.”
Some women of color, especially black women, still fear today they won’t make it up the corporate ladder as fast as others if they choose to rock the natural look.
“You can’t let the fear of being you keep you from getting a job,” Ritchie comments. “The fear will keep you from getting the job.”