Mellisa Scarlett

Charming young black woman looking at camera

When I first started working a 9-to-5, I was uncomfortable with being natural for the first time. Not to imply that I didn’t have relatives who occasionally criticized my decision to cut off the dead weight from my permed hair, but there was a new kind of discomfort about going to work in a 9-to-5 environment.

I was a month into my new job and decided to get rid of my sleek bob. After I went in with my freshly washed, twisted natural hairstyle, the receptionist who has a history of making underhanded racist jokes asked me if I had a long night. This was after I’d walked through the entrance with my freshly washed and twisted natural hair style.

My white male co-worker, upon seeing my afro for the first time, exclaimed to the whole office that he thought my hair looked fantastic—I didn’t solicit his opinion. Overall, this is a scenario that arises at work more than anyplace else.

I’ve learned different methods to maneuver my way around questions judging my hair. During this time, I was already fighting an internal conflict: to find myself attractive while sporting natural hairstyles. This personal struggle, coupled with dealing with individuals who don’t respect natural hair, was difficult. My self-assurance levels have definitely risen, but the fight for hair acceptance continues.”— Mellisa Scarlett