A few months ago my friend Jeanelle said the most moving thing to me. We were wrapping up a mentoring program at IHG and she fully changed the conversation to share her story with the circle. You see, she had just started wearing her hair natural. She took a good 10 minutes to explain the baggage she carries as a black woman when it comes to hair. Previous companies at which she worked had specific rules: no braids, no dreds, no afros in their fullest glories. I couldn’t believe it!
Jeanelle went on to say how freeing it was to wear her hair natural but how hard it was to feel like she wouldn’t be judged. “Did you ask your manager?” a colleague asked when she paused for a moment. “I didn’t. I just decided to do it one day. Mindy gave me the confidence to know that I could bring my most authentic self to work just by being Mindy.” In my mind’s eye my jaw dropped to the floor as speechlessness overcame me. That connection that Jeanelle seamlessly made that enabled her to take the risk of coming out of the ‘natural hair’ closet — that is best compliment for which a visual activist could ask.