Did You Braid Your Hair Over The Weekend? How My Coworkers Reacted When They Saw My Locs For The First Time

November 24, 2015  |  

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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.

Monday Morning

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?

Me: Yup.

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)

Me: Hey.

Coworker 3: What’s that?

Me: What?

Coworker 3: That thing in your hair.

Me: Oh that. Yeah, it’s called a hair-cuff.

Coworker 3: Hmm… I like it.

Me: Thanks.

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.

Awkward silence.

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?

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