Here at mycurls.co.uk, we pride ourselves on being open-minded and tolerant. We like to look at arguments from both sides of the fence; we think compassion is an all-too-rarefied commodity in today’s cut-throat environment.
There are limits, however – and nothing gets our goat quite like that being told that our natural hair is “unprofessional” or “unsuitable for the workplace”.
Excuse me, what?
It’s true: it happens, it’s damaging (and plays no small part in the growing number of women with natural hair who suffer from self-esteem issues), and it needs to stop.
What better way to end this onslaught of bigotry than by starting a conversation about the wildly successful women who refuse to abandon their curls for the sake of “professionalism”? Read on to discover the three queens we’ve chosen to profile for this piece.
Julee Wilson‘s first steps in the professional world were as humble as they could be. After being told numerous times that her preference for wearing her Afro hair naturally was “unprofessional”, she finally landed a position an assistant to the Editor-In-Chief of Real Simple Magazine.
Needless to say, her natural hair didn’t hinder her journalistic talent to any degree – a fact made evident by her meteoric rise to the Staff Fashion Editor in two years, becoming the first African-American woman to do so.
Where is she now?
Queen Wilson now plies her trade as the Style & Beauty Editor for the Huffington Post’s Black Voices project, making frequent reference to her roots (pun intended!) through articles and series such as Curly Hair Chronicles, in which she discusses the very problem she had to overcome to get to where she is today.
Denise Young Smith: a name you should get used to because you’re going to be hearing it a lot over the next few years. After earning her bachelor’s degree in Communications and a master’s degree in Organisational Management from Grambling State University, she made her first corporate inroads when contributed HR and management consulting to companies such as Kleiner Perkins Caufield and Byers portfolio companies.
It wasn’t until 1997, when she joined Apple (then still a fledgling, albeit rapidly-expanding, company) that she really started making waves, though. She has since served the company in several key HR roles, not least among them sitting on the team that crafted Apple’s retail organisation – which today welcomes more than one million people every day, and has re-defined what the word retail means to the corporate world.
Where is she now?
Ms. Smith was recently chosen as Apple’s Vice President of Worldwide Human Resources – a position whose responsibilities include attracting and retaining talent at Apple, and reports to none other than Tim Cook, the CEO, himself.
Kay Wilson Stallings earned her master’s degree at the University of Illinois, and ever since has been charting an astonishing rise through the ranks of corporate television.
Starting out as a manager at Nickelodeon, within ten years she’d become the Vice President of Production and Development – the first African-American woman to hold the title. She was primarily responsible for the development of such adored television programs as “Yo Gabba Gabba!”, “Lazytown” and “Wonder Pets”, and shows no sign of slowing either her creative juices or her impressive ambition.
Where is she now?
Ms. Stallings currently works her naturally-curled head off as Senior Vice President for Sesame Street, where she has an enormous amount of influence over what our children are exposed to on television’s most-loved children’s program.
There they are: three gloriously natural women sticking it to the Man one curl at a time.
Do YOU have any similar success stories you’d like to share?
Let us know in the comments below!