Did You Braid Your Hair Over The Weekend? How My Coworkers Reacted When They Saw My Locs For The First Time
In my last article, I left off at the point where I had decided to no longer cover-up my locs with a wig at work. What I didn’t tell you about were the comments that I received from my coworkers (all of whom are not Black) when they saw my dreadlocks for the very first time. Here’s how it went down.
I felt confident in my decision to forgo wearing a wig to work. I walked to the office with a renewed pep in my step, feeling the glow of the sun on my skin and the breeze in my hair. As the building elevator ascended to my department’s floor, I wondered what my coworkers would think of my hair. I was quickly about to find out. “Good morning,” I greeted my coworker.
Coworker 1: Ah! Oh my god!
Me: What? What happened?
Coworker 1: Your hair! It’s different!
Me: Oh… yeah, I changed it.
Coworker 1: Um… it’s cute. It’s cute.
Me: OK… thanks?
A few minutes later…
Coworker 2: Christine! You changed your hair?
Coworker 2: Did you braid your hair over the weekend to make it look like that?
Me: Mm… something like that.
A few hours later…
Coworker 3: Hey… (puzzled expression)
Coworker 3: What’s that?
Coworker 3: That thing in your hair.
Me: Oh that. Yeah, it’s called a hair-cuff.
Coworker 3: Hmm… I like it.
A few minutes later…
Coworker 4: So how do you do it?
Me: Do what?
Coworker 4: Change your hair.
Me: Well, there are many ways to do it. Some people chemically straighten their hair, some clip in extensions…
Coworker 4: So was what you had last time sewn on?
Me (in my head): OMG, how does she remember all the stuff I told her last month about lace-front wigs and weaves. OMG, she’s about to expose me! Deflect – say anything!
Me: No… no.
Coworker 4: That’s really interesting. So how often do you change your hair?
Me: Whenever I get bored. You know, it’s nice to have options.
A few days later…
Coworker 5: Hey Christine, so about the… Wow! Your hair!
Me: Dude, my hair has been like this the whole week.
Coworker 5: No it hasn’t.
Me: Um, yes it has… I talked to you yesterday. Are you only noticing now that my hair is different?
Coworker 5: Really? I guess I didn’t notice. So, I see you changed it up to be more like your “homies”?
Me: Haha, what “homies” are you talking about? You’re silly.
The rest of my coworkers generally seemed to ignore the change even though I could plainly see the confusion on their faces. Thankfully, my worst fear wasn’t realized – no one tried to touch my hair.
One thing from this experience that caught me by surprise was my own reluctance to meaningfully answer my coworkers’ questions about my hair. I displayed cowardice by deflecting instead of taking the opportunity to educate my coworkers on Black hair. Although, on the other hand, I also feel that it’s unfair that the burden of educating should rest on my shoulders. Sometimes I wish that I could just pass out a copy of Chris Rock’s Good Hair documentary film whenever a non-Black person asks me about my hair.
In any case, the discomfort that I felt about not handling the questions better was soon outweighed by the comfort I gained by wearing my hair out. I’m no longer distracted by annoying wig combs and can focus better on doing my job. I feel like myself again. So overall, my big reveal went OK, although I still don’t know what to make of Coworker 1’s shriek of surprise – shade or no shade?