Thursday, August 16, 2007


It's been a very long time since I've purchased Glamour. The latest issue features a discussion- "Do's & Don'ts of Corporate Fashion," which advises readers to use Kimble leave-in conditioner, along with a flat iron, followed by a curling iron with spritzer, topped off with some extensions to achieve "Mary J. Bilge's loose beautiful curls." Of course the Glamour editor who is conveniently unidentified, presents a slide show to a New York law firm as her way of shedding some light on the topic according to this month's American Lawyer magazine.

"First slide: an African American woman sporting an Afro. A real no-no, announced the 'Glamour' editor to the 40 or so lawyers in the room. As for dreadlocks: How truly dreadful! The style maven said it was 'shocking' that some people still think it 'appropriate' to wear those hairstyles at the office. 'No offense,' she sniffed, but those 'political' hairstyles really have to go."

Mark Walker, managing partner of the law firm Cleary Gottlieb's who wasn't at the lady luncheon, attempts to end this pleasantly by sending everyone an email pointing out the stupidity of the Glamour editor and fashion magazines:

"As for the identity of the editor, neither Cleary Gottlieb nor Conde' Nast Publications Inc. (publisher of 'Glamour') would say. Indeed, almost all of the half-dozen 'Glamour' editors contacted for this story professed not to have ever set foot in a law firm. 'Clearly what?' asked several. And Walker states he has no idea whether the editor who sparked all the controversy is a well-known fashionista. In fact he adds, 'I really don't know people in the fashion industry.'

Wow, speaking from experience and the fact that I sport a huge afro and have been for the last 4 years or so in the corporate world, seems to get over fine nowadays. However, that wasn't the case a few years ago. At one point early in my career, it did take a long time for me to land a position. I sought out advice from my friends and family and they did ask me did I think it was because of my hair that I wasn't getting hired? I said of course not but took into consideration what they were conveying. I decided to wear a wig to an interview and to my surprise, I got that job! A few weeks into the position I took that cap of a wig off, and showed off my natural tresses. My boss and a few of my co-workers approached me asking, "why didn't you wear your hair like this during your interview?" I thought, "are you kidding me?" What I really wanted to say was, "If I did wear my afro, would I even be standing here today having this conversation with you?"

Is this what it's really coming to? It doesn't matter anymore if you have twelve degrees to qualify for the job, you have to be in the image and likeness of fried straight hair, curled hard, with split ends, drizzled down with a fruit scented holding spray? Why should it matter when you look at the African American woman in your office that's wearing her beautiful crown and manages to get the job done not enough for you to be satisfied? Funny, because if the unidentified editor felt that her opinion was right on, why is she choosing to remain anonymous?

Years ago, there weren't as many African American women wearing their natural hair as there are today. We've come a long way and it's a beautiful thing! As always said, what was in the beginning, shall be in the end.

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