Women all over the world are condemned for wearing their naturally curly hair as a statement of individuality and pride. Society teaches women that straight, long hair is the standard of beauty and to meet that standard by any means necessary. This expectation has caused women of all colors, majorly those in the black community, to take drastic measures to meet these standards to be considered for job opportunities at companies that are consistent in their views of “uniformity”. From consistently straightening their natural hair with heat and chemicals to wearing wigs and weaves that disguise their curly hair as straight, women are expected to either conform to the “uniform” or risk not having a job at all. This is the expectation for curly haired women in many industries. Recently the world has started to take strides towards accepting women for who they are, including their hair. With the natural hair movement re-emerging amongst newer generations and laws like the “Create a Respectful and Open Workplace for Natural Hair Act” (CROWN Act) being passed in, now, four U.S. states, women are taking a stand and fighting for their right to their natural-born curls in the workplace.
Amongst these strong movements is Iyani Lenice’s “Curly Girls On Air”. The CBS 46 News reporter started the social media platform as a way of “supporting and encouraging natural and curly girls [ON AIR] around the world,” according to the Instagram page (@curlygirlsonair), because “Representation matters!” Since its inception in May of 2018, the platform has empowered women of all shades in the news industry to wear their natural curls on air regardless of the stigma of unprofessionalism that comes with it.
The platform has featured reporters such as Emmy-nominated journalist Cierra Shipley of Central Texas News Now, an award-winning anchor and reporter Lena Pringle of News4JAX in Florida, and television personality and journalist Demetria Obilor (also known as “traffic bae”) from WFAA in Dallas, Texas. These curly girls on air have featured interviews on the social media platform along with their outreach to young girls that hope to one day be able to rock their curls without shame. As we celebrate Women’s Month, we celebrate women’s ability to be themselves unapologetically in every space, including the workplace. Being a public figure should not mean conforming to any standard other than the beauty you are born with; Curly Girls on Air, the CROWN Act, and other natural hair movements are making sure every little girl gets this message.