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Let’s take a trip down memory lane to my childhood. To a time when blood-curdling screams and ear-splitting cries reverberated through the apartment as my mother yanked, combed, and plaited my hair. Getting ready for school every morning was hell on earth – for the both of us.

“Get yo’ tender-headed butt back in this seat so I can get you to school on time!” my mother would yell as I clutched my painfully pounding scalp.

On top of being tortured by evil rattail combs and paddle brushes, I despised how my mother styled my hair. A couple of frou-frou bows here, a few gaudy barrettes there, and voila, a “masterpiece” – well, at least in mother’s eyes.

Being the only kinky-haired student in an all-white classroom with these goofy hair accessories embellished all over my damn head, I was the target of cruel, witty jokes that would have landed these mean ol’ kids a spot as child prodigies on Saturday Night Live.

“Why’d you come to school lookin’ like a Christmas tree, though?” One classmate asked.

“She has marbles tied to her hair because she’s already lost too many,” another joked.

“Why do you have poop crawling out of your head?” A third chimed in.

This was how it was for me every damn time my mother whipped up a new hairstyle for me. I was getting a lot of undesired attention – I stood out like a sore thumb and I became a human punching bag who had no choice but to absorb a wave of hurtful jabs that obliterated my self esteem.

I’ll never forget when I first debuted my box braids at school. “Well, well, well,” one classmate said menacingly. “If it isn’t Medusa in the flesh!”

Fast forward to the present and my anxiety of debuting a new hairstyle hasn’t waned one bit.

It’s not that I am expecting to be roasted, chewed up, and spat out for jokes like I dealt with during my childhood, but I cannot stand the unwanted attention.

One day, as I gingerly tip-toed into work with my new Senegalese twists trying not to attract too much attention, my boss shattered my unassuming entrance by yelling, “Whoa-ho-ho! Look at your hair!”

Everyone’s neck whipped my way to see what my boss was talking about.

“Good grief! How long did it take you to do that?”

“Five hours.” I responded quietly and quickly.

“Oh my goodness! Five hours?!” she yelled. More eyeballs shifted my way to see what the whole commotion is about. “I couldn’t sit for that long! Golly!”

My cheeks grew crimson with embarrassment.

Suddenly, I was in the hot seat as she fired questions my way. “How much was it?” “Does it hurt?” “Where did you get it done?”

This is why I get knots in my stomach at the very thought of walking into work with a new hairstyle – I’m always involuntarily thrown under a blinding spotlight where I feel gawked at and “othered.” My hair should not be up for discussion in the workplace, am I right?


I know I can’t be the only one who feels this way. I have a friend who has “new hair jitters” that are so bad that, as much as she wants to unravel her natural hair tresses into a twist out, she’s kept her hair in a bun since day one because she’s too afraid of the attention it’ll attract!

Do y’all ever feel anxious about going to the office with a new hairstyle? Maybe it’s a big chop or a pixie cut. Perhaps you’ve removed your hair extensions or installed a new wig and you just can’t help but feel butterflies – a sense of uneasiness – at the thought of nosy co-workers side-eyeing you all damn day. Tell me I’m not the only one.

Kimberly Gedeon, founder of The Melody of Melanin, is a content creator with nearly 2,000 professional articles published online about everything from beauty and business to politics and pop culture. You can say hello to her on Instagram or Twitter – she doesn’t bite!

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