My Natural Hair is Professional
A growing number of Latinas are reaffirming and embracing their natural beauty by proudly growing their natural hair. Such empowering decisions are often questioned and frowned upon society at large, as documented in this video we previously shared. Professional settings, in particular, appear to have less tolerance for natural hair. Numerous women face discrimination for wearing their natural hair at work. There is a growing need to learn more about the experiences of professional women who proudly wear their natural hair in their various fields.
My Natural Hair is Professional is an initiative inspired by two bloggers, CurlyNikki.com and Afrobella.com, to reaffirm that natural hair is not informal and that we have the right to wear our natural hair at work. To begin a conversation with women wearing their natural hair professionally, I interviewed Dr. Phoenix Austin, a physician, writer and media personality. Dr. Austin share her experience and offers her advice on being a natural hair professional, hair care and styling.
Interview with Dr. Phoenix Austin
Dr. Phoenix, please tell us a bit about yourself.
I am originally from Panama and currently living in the Washington, DC area. I have traveled all over the world and lived in several states in the United States. I came to the US from Panama with my Mom and Dad when I was little girl. My parents currently live in Florida.
People that follow my writing and tv/radio appearances know that I like to touch on topics like natural hair, relationships, culture and other topics that interest women like myself. I’m very busy these days with a few projects. One of those projects is my first book, If you Love it, it will Grow. It’s a book about hair care for women with textured hair like me and you. A lot of the book is instructional and teaches women how to take care of their hair so that it can be healthy and grow to longer lengths. I got the idea to write the book after so many women kept asking me about my hair and how I cared for it. I’m so excited about this book and it’s now available on amazon.com. There is so much great information in the book and I hope women love it! It’s just the tip of the iceberg and there will many more books to come from me in the near future!
Dr. Phoenix: No, I didn’t always wear my hair natural. I went natural in 2005 after a trip to Jamaica. My book actually talks in detail about my hair, my experience with going natural and why I did it. I’ve been natural for almost 7 years now. For years, I was lead to believe that relaxed and straight hair was better and more beautiful than “nappy” natural hair. So one day after many years of literally hating my hair, I decided to shave off all my relaxed hair. I was tired of hating my hair. I was ready to love the hair that God blessed me with. It was years ago, but I still remember it like it was yesterday. The experience was very liberating and I’m so happy I did it. I look at my hair now, and I can’t believe I allowed fear and insecurity to keep me from embracing my hair. My hair is a major part of who I am and I’ve learned to love it.
What is your experience with your natural hair at work? Have you ever experienced any discrimination at work because of your hair?
When it came to work, I’ve only had positive experiences with my hair. I constantly get compliments about my hair and many people tell me that love it. I’m sure I’ve come across people that didn’t like my hair but they weren’t bold enough to say so to my face. And no, I can’t say that I’ve been discriminated against or taken for granted. But I think a big part of that is because of how I carry myself. If you carry yourself with confidence, it is a lot harder for people to criticize you or stand in the way of your way of success.
What advice would you give to someone who is experiencing problems with wearing their natural hair at work?
I have never experienced a problem wearing my natural hair at work, but I told myself years ago that I would never relax my hair again for “acceptance” or any other reason. So if it were me, I would probably quit the job if my employer were making an issue about my hair. My hair has nothing to do with my ability to do my job. I believe in trying to resolve issues peacefully but I would never relax my hair for a job. That is just my perspective and I can’t speak for every woman. In life you have to learn to pick your battles.
What styles do you usually wear to work?
I typically wear my hair in two-strand twists when I go to work. This is the style most people see me wearing. On days that I’m not working, I like to wear my hair in a big puffy Afro.
I’ve always been a low maintenance girl. On a typical day, you won’t find me in the mirror more than 10-15 minutes doing my hair. I co-wash my hair about once a week. On days that I don’t wash my hair, I will simply wake up, shower, spray my hair with a daily moisturizer, seal my ends and go! Oh yeah, and I put on clothes too. My regimen is very simple and quick.
At night I always keep my hair protected. I never sleep with my hair in a loose afro. I always keep my hair in some sort of protective style overnight and I also make sure to sleep with a satin bonnet.
What are some of you favorite products?
I’m really into Ayurvedic products and many natural and raw products like alma, brahmi, castor oil, aloe vera, etc… As far as commercial products, I do like Herbal Essence’s Hello Hydration conditioner for co-washing and I’ve had positive experiences with products from SheaMoisture and Taliah Waajid.
What advice would you give a women who is trying to go natural?
I would say that to just do it! When I’m out and about, I always get questions from women about “going natural.” I’ve also had many women tell me that I inspired them to go natural- and I think that’s pretty cool! I think natural hair is beautiful. Women should be proud of their natural hair. So if you want to go natural, just do it. There are tons of natural hair sites, YouTube videos, and people like me that can offer guidance and information about natural hair care
Where can we find you on the web?
You can find me on Facebook at DrPhoneyx and you can also find me on my blog at DrPhoenyx.com. Feel free to write me if you have any questions or comments I love to hear from my fellow ladies! You can also find my book about natural hair, If You Love It, It Will Grow at amazon.com.
If you want to share your experience or know someone whose ”Natural Hair is Professional” send an email to firstname.lastname@example.org, we would love to hear from you!