Confessions of a Loc’d Goddess: Locs In the Workplace

So, my next topic of discussion will be an oldie but goodie; wearing locs in the workplace.  Now, most people feel that people with locs can never have a professional job.  Of course, I am living and breathing proof, along with several others, who say that is not true at all.  I work in social work, and I would say it is a pretty professional job.  I am a social worker, so most of my days are spent in the community, speaking with teachers, principals, counselors, and other community resources.  I also do visits to my family’s homes and in their neighborhoods.  Needless to say, I get noticed quite a bit.  Now, one would think that having a job like this, calls for a specified dress code, which it does.  We are required to be somewhere between business casual and business professional (especially on court days).

One of the condescending and rude questions I have heard people ask is “they let you go to work with your hair like that?” Uh, yea!  Truth be told, there is quite a bit of leniency on hair in the workplace.  From what I gather in the policy (which I don’t know verbatim), is that as long as it isn’t a wacked out color, and possible horns and other things flying from it, your hair can be pretty much however you want it to be.  And I like to remind people countless times, LOCS ARE JUST AS VERSATILE AS ANYONE ELSE’S HAIR! I can pin my hair up if I want, let it fall down; put it in a ponytail, pretty much anything.  Basically, what I want to say about this is, it is all about presentation of your hair.  You don’t want to be that person who never keeps their hair clean and kept in a decent style or as professional as possible.

Knowing the type of work environment you have is important in this as well.  If you worked in a law office that was very strict on appearances, my thought would be to keep your locs, but pin them up into a style or pull them back into a bun (if length permits).  My office environment is pretty laid back.  It is very rare that anyone is very strict about the dress code.  I have seen all different types of haircuts and styles, makeup, etc. and even hair.  No one has been reprimanded yet, so I think as long as the work is getting done, hair is a minor issue here.

I don’t know if it would be considered succumbing to the restrictions of society, but I tend to play the game smart, not hard.  I have worn my hair out plenty of times to work.  I let it fall however it chooses to, and I have had no issues or no supervisors or directors come and tell me otherwise.  With that being said, if something comes up and I have to present myself in a more polished manner, I have a headband and bobbie pins in my desk.   I see it as how my supervisor keeps a suit jacket on the back of his door and an extra tie in his drawer, in case we have some emergency court hearing.  It’s all about the preparation and presentation.  With my job, you never know when something is going to happen to call for you to be and look your best.  I think by having those things on hand at my office, I am preparing for whatever.  Other than that, my hair shouldn’t be anyone’s business.

The way I see it, I was interviewed with this hair, hired with this hair, and have worked a long time with this hair.  I would find it very interesting if someone said something to me now, as opposed to way back when I got my job.  I will say, do not let anyone try to change you, and if they do that is grounds for a complaint of discrimination.  But, do not make it harder on yourself.  We live in a world where discrimination does exist.  People WILL fire you or make you try to change.  You have to decide at that point, what you are willing to do for yourself and your hair.  If it’s something as simple as pulling your hair back with a headband, is that really worth losing your job over?

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