I’m not exactly sure when it started, perhaps before college, but for years I associated a professional look with having straight hair. It’s not like I thought curls were unprofessional, I just thought people took you more seriously when your hair was not curly. In college, I studied journalism and wanted to be a news anchor. In 2000, I even won the role to co-host a news magazine show called the “Cats Eye”, which aired once on KVOA in Tucson during my senior year. Back then, I wore my hair bone straight 85 percent of the time (shout out to Rhonda at Posse’s in Tucson and Nicky Agnew at Gifts From Above in Phoenix for those bomb press jobs!)
The year 2000 (remember Y2K?) was 16 years ago. Sixteen years is a long time in an “Omg-it’s-been-that-long-ago-since-I-was-in-college” mindset, but really in the grand scheme of things it’s just one season in most people’s lives. Look at how much has changed in those 16 years when it comes to Black hair, education, major retailers’ marketing to us/selling products for us and an overall celebration of natural hair.
I specifically remember having a convo with one of my curly BFFs who also wanted to be a journalist and saying well, if we had to move to a Whosville market for our first TV job, we had to find a decent hairdresser to keep those ends straight and edges laid. Back then I don’t recall anyone in Arizona or a national news or sports reporter who rocked their natural curls. (Disclaimer: I know there has to be some amazing women who did, so let me know of names you recall.) Thank goodness for TV personalities now like EPSN’s Sage Steele who makes curly girls smile watching her bouncy mane own the camera. Not having curly role models in the TV news profession back then was simply one of those things we both accepted and didn’t really worry about much.
I didn’t end up pursuing a career as a reporter. Instead, I choose public relations and working with the media. So four years later in 2004, I had an opportunity to interview with a nonprofit in a communications role. I vividly recall spending hours washing my hair, blow drying and plugging in the hot comb to press it (I did have one for the stove too) the night before my interview. Again in my head, straight hair was more professional looking and worth the torture of doing it when I could have been asleep at 1 a.m. I also opted to wear my glasses to make me look older and smarter for the interview. I did end up getting the job. I was 25.
Fastforward to age 37, I’m proud to say I love my curls and have no doubt they are professional looking. I typically wear it all down or in a ponytail or part of it twisted back out of my face. I feel so blessed to have this head of hair and believe it’s now part of my personal brand. Remember the BFF I had those curly TV conversations with in college? Well, she got married over a year ago. I was the matron of honor and had pretty amazing straight hair that weekend. But, I have not straightened it since her wedding 15 months ago. This is the longest I’ve EVER gone without straightening my hair. I don’t miss it. Well maybe only those times when I break three elastic hair ties in a row trying to wrap it around my curly ponytail. I’ve learned to love the fullness of my hair, the volume of my hair and even some of my imperfect curls trying to come back to life.
In my current role, I do a decent amount of media interviews. I think back to the time where I never saw someone on TV with curly hair and think maybe a young person who sees my sound bites might be inspired to wear their hair naturally curly as well AND never even question the professionalism of curls. As you can see Curly Courtships start early in life. I’m so glad I now understand my curl’s Love Language…Quality Time. ❤️