True Power

True Power

Saturday, November 28, 2009


It has been stated in the past that no one will hire a person with dreads. This may have been the case in the 70's and early 80's, but as black people began to embrace cornrows and other natural hair styles, the professional world began to be more tolerant of ethnic hairstyles. Now with many celebrities opting to wear more ethnic-centric hairstyles, the business world had to bend a little more to the idea of ethnic expression through hair style choices.

Here is an interview of an up and coming professional and her journey into the natural hair world and a professional career.

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When and why did you choose dreads?
I decided to dread my hair in March 2009. I was tired of perming and wetsetting my hair. It was chewed out in the back and traumatized. Being in medical school and having a busy schedule, I only had time put my hair in one ponytail, but it was more about the hair breakage in the back. I had been thinking about dreads for two years. My mother didn't want me to cut off my permed hair even though she herself had cut off her own permed hair to wear dreads in 2005.

What was the initial response of family, friends, and co-workers?
My little sister cried because she was having a hard time growing her own hair and I had long hair which she loved. My great-aunt said I had nigga hair and she didn't like it. My dad accused my mother of cutting off my hair, which she had, but at my request. My best friend just said that I looked like my mother. She is of the Pentecostal faith which does not agree with women cutting their hair. My peers in medical school thought my hair was interesting.

What do you like or dislike about your hair?
I like getting up in the morning and going out of the door without fussing over my hair. No more perms and burns. I thought dreads would be easy to lock, you know, because most black people think their natural hair is nappy. But the texture of my natural hair was more like the texture of nylon weave. The shaft is very straight and elastic. I was amazed at the actual strength of it. Each time I would shampoo my newly acquired dreads, they would come a loose. I had to redo them constantly. My hairstyle doesn't look as feminine as it did with my perm and I can't curl it on rods yet because it is too short right now. My hair looks weird to me when I wear dresses.

Did you notice a boost in confidence or any other personality change?
I don't know. I don't think it was a boost in confidence. I pretty much do what I set my mind to do. But my dreads did make me happy because I wanted to do it for so long and I'm happy with my decision. I think my hair reflects that I do what I want to do.

What is the response to your hair now?
People like it. People stop me on the streets to ask me who did my hair. I feel good when I tell them I did it myself. I had a picture in my head of how my dreads would be and they are nothing like what I imagined.

As a Professional person, how do your dreads go with your career?
I had a moment of hesitancy when finally deciding to dread lock my hair, because I was entering the interview season for residency placement as a doctor. I decided if a residency program didn't want me because of my natural hair style choice, then it was not a program I wanted to be a part of.

Dr. Ellis, Mississippi


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