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Why Google’s Images of Professional vs Unprofessional Styles Aren’t as Racist as You Think

Avatar • Apr 7, 2016

A tweet showed up on my timeline that made me Google unprofessional and professional hairstyles:

natural hair workplace

At this point, the post has been retweeted 8.3K times and liked 5K times. And while my initial Google image search immediately sent me into “WTF” mode, you have to take a closer look and see what content actually includes those images. If you click on the “unprofessional hairstyles” Google images of natural‐haired black women, most will take you to articles about why natural hair should NOT be viewed as unprofessional. Here’s one:

workcurly

Here’s another:

workcurly2

Most of the articles I saw were not actually bashing natural hair — they were defending it. I know that I’ve addressed natural hair in the workplace several times on Quest for the Perfect Curl. If you do a Google image search right now, this article will probably show up, but it may not be apparent that I’m not bashing natural hair in the search results.

Some people even pointed out that the pictures actually aren’t being used in a negative light.

hairtweet

While I’m happy that, for once, the world isn’t trolling black women, it brings up another issue. Why, as black women, do we have to defend our natural hair so much that when you Google search for “unprofessional hairstyles” our discussions and debates trend highest? It is a subtle instance of privilege; other women can go to work without worry, black women have to be ready to defend their natural hair in the workplace at a moment’s notice.

See: Black Waitress Sent Home Because Her Natural Hair Would Not ‘Fall Straight’ and Hang Down

Ladies what are your thoughts?

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strangesistaSharmineI Liek TacosJereshia Hawkmds29 Recent comment authors
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nubian queen528
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nubian queen528

The difference between a curly and straight hair, is whenever you make a braid with a curly hair, you can make a beautiful ordered braid and different hairstyle, you don’t need the lacquer, or thousands of rubber bands !
With straight hair, you can’t make a beautiful braid or different hairstyle, because you need to maintain with lacquer, hair is not sorted and the hair escapes all from outside, easily the straight hair can fall in the food, wherever you find them! So,who is not professional?

Abena
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Abena

I really look forward to the day when this will be a non‐issue. I personally do not experience any negativity at the work place for my natural hair and find all this debate rather strange and unrelatable. I sometimes wonder if we are not making a mountain out of a mole hill. Fine, I give allowance that I live in Ghana and have not experienced what African Americans go through. Still, I am tired of we, of the African heritage wherever we are around the world, having to focus so intensely on our hair and what it means. Please let’s… Read more »

strangesista
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strangesista

i’ve been fired from jobs and passed over for promotions for wearing my natural hair. please don’t gaslight us when we say this is an issue. i am happy you are in a black majority nation and can wear your hair as you please, but don’t try to invalidate the experiences the rest of us are having around the world because you can’t relate or bother to be sympathetic. you’re tired of hearing about it? i was tired of being treated unfairly or not having a paycheck because of my hair and i’m tired of people who don’t share my… Read more »

I Liek Tacos
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I Liek Tacos

Um…what did I just read? Just because you don’t experience it doesn’t mean others don’t. That’s a very close minded way to view issues lmfao. I don’t personally experience hunger, but that doesn’t mean world hunger isn’t an issue.

JackpotJoy
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JackpotJoy

This world is so anti‐black woman we are obviously a threat to the workplace when we wear our god given hair but when its weaved, relaxed or snatched in a straight wig its not a problem???? Lord come take me off this planet.

JackpotJoy
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JackpotJoy

Our hair is a threat to society!!

LBell
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LBell

I go back and forth on whether people have Internet‐driven ADD or are just lazy, but that top tweet is what happens when you react to what’s on the surface and don’t take time to question what you’re being presented with. CONTEXT…it’s a beautiful thing… As for whether natural hair is unprofessional, I’m going to repeat what I’ve said for years now: Not all natural hairstyles work for every environment but that doesn’t mean you can’t find one that does…and there’s one hairstyle, the TWA, that works in EVERY environment. As of today I am the only black woman in… Read more »

mds29
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mds29

I never experienced any negativity but I can tell some people don’t like natural hair or are uncomfortable about it. I get no eye contact or I am ignored, especially when I wear my 4C afro. I also notice that when there is length, people accept it more. I went to this federal resume writing class in DC and the presenter had the nerve to to say to the class that someone may not hire me because of my hair. I was shocked because it came out of no where. I was sad because she might feel this way about… Read more »

Sharmine
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Sharmine

Sometimes in my workplace I do receive negativity when it comes to my Afro. I once had box braids and when I took them down, an employee told me that I looked better with my braids than my fro. I just shrug her opinion her off, because it didn’t matter to me what she thought. Also this isn’t negativity but it is ignorance. Many many times I have had a customer ask if my fro was real. I have 4c hair and it is purple. So I get a lot of ignorant questions like, how did I get my hair… Read more »

Jereshia Hawk
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Jereshia Hawk

This picture has been stirring up a lot of conversation. Today, I say my picture slide through my inbox as a Diversity Inc Best Practices article and had to speak up. Little do they know, that curly hair brown woman is little ol me. When that picture was taken, I was an intern, working to bring Michigan families natural gas and increase economic spend in Michigan by millions of dollars. In addition, I was creating a potential investment of over $3M for my company while getting an engineering degree and running my first business. To classify a woman rocking her… Read more »

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