Upon my acceptance letter to one of the top Communications schools, the S.I. Newhouse School of Public Communications for a Masters in Broadcast Digital Journalism, my first reaction was excitement, eagerness to learn mixed with, many thoughts of how my appearance would display and slay on camera. I know right?! Yes thinking about my appearance on camera before we even began the program- we hadn't yet started diving into the curriculum- and I was already seeking a hair dresser I would faithfully go to- to keep the hair laid and straight for on-camera appearances.
Because of prior things I observed as an aspiring broadcast journalist- I believed this to be the acceptable way. Being a young lady interning at WCVB-TV channel 5, I looked up to all the women anchors and reporters, and of course the Black Women reporters I admired because they were a true reflection of myself. Although my training second to none- it was the constant (sometimes self inflicted) pressure to keep my hair straight for live shots and stand-ups. I felt if I didn't look the part, i.e. blazer and straight hair- then my packaged story was not going to come out correct- and quite frankly- I thought people wouldn't enjoy what they were seeing if I didn't look the part.
Below is a compilation of hair looks I've had over the last several years on camera- and February of 2017 marked the first time ever, I went on- air to host Boston Neighborhood Network's 'Around Town' show with and afro. I also felt liberated a few weeks prior to rock twists during my green screen recording.
Throughout my time in graduate school and continuing shortly after- this was my focus. It wasn't until I got back into the working world and going through my own life's journey where I realized the importance of feeling comfortable in my own skin and also acknowledging the root of some of these self myths that were hindering me from being the most authentic voice through the stories I was delivering. When I made the decision to share my experiences- I looked for stimulating literature that mirrored some of the same nuances I wanted to share.
I began reading The Color Complex: The Politics of Skin Color in a New Millennium- specifically Chapter 5- Hair Stories: The Politics between Straight and Nappy. Through this reading, I realized I wasn't alone- and the misconceptions of Hair and beauty for most African Americans has been a focal point for decades. Hair Stories in particular explores the doubt and questions some Black women have about their beauty since society deems our hair "Nappy" or "unprofessional" if worn in it's natural state. I suffered from this bondage for years until I made the personal commitment to let the depth of the story take precedence over my outward looks.
WEAR YOUR HAIR LIKE A CROWN
Telling stories is all about substance. The depth of what comes out of your mouth and how it’s properly communicated to the audience. Worrying about the esthetics of hair definitely created a limited box in my mind of how the stories were delivered. When you are comfortable in your skin, confident and committed to your story the effectiveness can and will spread like wildfire. In 2016 I liberated myself by cutting my hair short just for a different look and to regain some natural volume. My already "Natural hair" meaning hair that has never been permed and without chemical still needed to start from square one because of the many years of straightening and hot combing that left my hair trained to be straight. Since then, I've found hair styles that are easiest for my lifestyle balance as a Mom, Media professional, and fitness enthusiast. While I was seeking styles that would be easy- I found that being open to wearing natural hairstyles changed my approach and perspective as a storytelling artist.
I have provided two videos here to two different stories. The first on the top is a story package I did on the scorching hot weather in the northeast back in 2010 finishing up my capstone as the Washington D.C. correspondent for KAMR NBC 4. The second video on the bottom is a "Cuts and Curls" piece I covered for Boston Neighborhood Network. I put these side by side to highlight the growth- not only of my skills but also the depth and connection to the story due to being comfortable in my skin.
Scorching Hot Weather Takes the Northeast
On this hot day I remember flat ironing my hair and edges before going out to the zoo, I also was so headstrong about wearing a blazer. My hair was literally fried and died and I was burning up- all to "look the part"....
7th Annual Cuts & Curls Back to School Event
Compared to last summer's Cut's and Curls piece where my hair was shorter and natural and I didn't have to worry about the heat sweating it out. Since the notion of my hair was secondary I was able to get down on the ground with the people to tell their stories and ensure the true essence of the event was captured and told. This in no way could have happened if I was consumed with me.
Does this mean I won't ever straighten my hair again for a different look whether on-air or off? I Absolutely will wear it straight again! And likely change my hairstyle a hundred times over depending on my mood. The point of this post was to reinforce there are many sides to us- and we shouldn't hide and tuck away physical attributes we possess just because societal norms teach us to. Use the very thing that makes you who you are and unapologetic ally bring these elements into your everyday work-life balance. If for nothing else, you'll feel liberated actually living out your truth.
LB NATURAL HAIR TIP:
Be generous with your hair products!
All the braiding and flat twist labor the night before will all be in vain if your hair is not saturated with your desired natural hair products.
I am in no way a Natural hair expert at all- however through trial and error I'm still learning what's best for me.
Ladies, I want to know...
What tips do you suggest that helps you wear your Natural Hair confidently?
Comment. Share, Like. Continue the conversation with me.