Dreadlocks have been a stigmatized hairstyle for a very long time in many societies and many that maintained this kind of hairstyle were mainly considered to be unruly and sometimes weed smokers. Now in the 21st Century, almost every 2nd person out of 5 (ie about 40%) has dreadlocks within the community cause now as opposed to before where the hairdo was only restricted to blacks, now even the Caucasians can be seen sporting it. Right now, more and more people are choosing to go natural and taking up dreadlocks as their preferred choice of natural hairstyle. Why many have chosen this path can not be pinpointed to one reason but being natural is healthier, cheaper, offers flexibility and freedom to especially women that could never walk under the rain with the relaxers and helping attract females (we all know locked brothers are HOT!!) count as some of the reasons in the multitude of reasons given by many people for going natural. Considering more people are taking up dreadlocks as the hairstyle of choice means that more professionals are also included in the group that is going natural.
It is definitely scary to see large afros and long locks in a society that only knew African women with long straight weaves or wigs on. For the whites that have only seen blacks like Naomi Campbell, Condolezza Rice and Tyra on TV screens with "their" long straight hair; it’s definitely a shock to see a real afro, “What? Those things (afros) actually exist? Thought only Baby MJ sported one.” Many may be heard saying when they see a black with an afro.
Now we are professionals, doctors, nurses, accountants, engineers etc and we are sporting locks, how does this influence your professional life? Should your hairstyle have any influence on your professional career? I personally don’t think so but hundreds if not thousands of women and men sporting locks find themselves between a rock and a hard place when it comes to finding a job or keeping their locks. I’ve heard of people who had to cut their locks before they could apply let alone start the job they wanted. A clever solution I heard was a lady that went to the interview in a wig and after she got the job, she reported to work with her locks; it was too late for the boss to sack her.
How do we as professionals get to enjoy sporting our locks and keeping our jobs? Here are a couple of tips I have compiled just for you, if you got any you would like to add then please do leave a comment or email and I’ll add them:
- Keep them neat and clean regardless of which method you choose to maintain your locks, a professional should be clean from head to toe. This always causes tension as some people have the misconception that to have locks they have to be dirty to be original. Sadly, someone told me recently “Your hair is so beautiful and clean, no one would think you got locks”. Keep them clean and no one will care if they are locks or a wig.
- Have them in a descent style. Some hairstyles are not for the office so keep them out of the office. I love what many great lock stylists do with locks but some of those styles are only meant for the Bronner Brothers Hairshow, you don’t go to the office dressed in clothes from the New York fashion week do you? For the guys, you’re allowed a ponytail at the back of your head, for the ladies be creative but remain official.
- Dress the part. Your outfit should complement your locks and also make your clients comfortable in your presence. Make sure your suits or attire is clean and well ironed
- Remain professional. Do your job twice as well as you should. Most women that have worked in environments where they were belittled for being women know this well. Sometimes you have to prove yourself. Do your assignements better than expected, finish it on time and always get to the office on time.
- Enjoy your locks. You should keep them neat and clean but don't forget flexibility and freedom are some of the reasons we chose locks in the first place, atleast I did. Check the net for some great locks styles, don't be boring with your locks. Style them as you would braids or relaxed hair.
- Respect the company rules. For example if you work in a bakery you need to wear a hairnet all the time. If you follow this simple rule no one will ever have issues with you. Read your company dresscode manual if you have one and follow those rules.
- Treat colleagues with respect. Assess your own manners and association with fellow collegues. Sometimes people have issues with the way you treat them and not the hairstyle you are rocking, maybe they have never even noticed it before. So analyze whether you treat people well, even if you don't like them, respect them.
- Maybe you have done all the right things but they still continue to have issues with you, well They got issues that cannot be absorbed by tissue. You can not change other people's reaction, you can only influence and if by doing what is right you still didn't win them over then they ain't worth the hustle.