I AM NOT MY HAIR!

B.O.O
Posted June 7, 2016 from Nigeria

A tuesday i could never forget.

It all started on the friday of the previous week. I finally get the long awaited call that i have been shortlisted for the third and final stage of a very important interview that could change my career in ways unimaginable! My excitement and optimism was through the roof.!

I was oh so sure i would nail this interview and get the job. Or so i thought.

Got into my car and started driving to the venue of the interview. Not even the hot abuja sun that was literally melting my makeup could bring me down nor the crazy driving of other road users could get me to utter the plenty cuss words going through my head which i ended up muttering.

10 minutes to interview time:

After bribing my way to get a damn near awful parking spot, literally flying out of the car, i make a hopeless last minute attempt to touch up my makeup, grab my documents, straighten my jacket and i start to run to the venue!

Finally! I get to the venue! Panting and sweating like i was trying to represent my country at the olympics .

I take a seat amongst the other two already seated potientials that were hoping for my dream job . Shortly after, three more candidates join us. Making a total of 6.

And then the interview started.

First person in,

Second person in,

Third person in,

im still sitting and hoping to be called in as i thought it would be in the order of arrival

Fourth person in,

still waiting

Fifth person in,

After more than four hours of waiting

I hear the door open and then my name is called.

Finally!!

I gather my tired self, put on the biggest smile i could muster and muttered a quick prayer .

And i went in and The following conversation took place:

Me: good evening ma

interview is being conducted by two ladies

Interviewer: you can have a seat .

Me: thank you .

Interviewer: what is this on your head??

Me: its my natural hair.

Interviewer: i can see that. Why did you dye it?

i have been on a dark shade of auburn hair color for four years prior to this interview

Me: ive always had my hair in this shade.

Interviewer: i dont like it .You have to change it to black or cover it .We cant accept it here.

Me: visibly stunned i dont have a problem with covering my hair maam if its company policy but i dont think my hair should define my level of productivity, my abilities and capabilities.

during this short exchange, she has not even made an attempt to look at my resume

Interviewer: i just dont want to see this .You had better find something to do it.

After managing to ask me one or two questions, i was done.

My interview was the shortest out of the six candidates.

Fours days later, a text comes through:

"We are sorry to inform you that even with your impressive resume, we cannot offer you this position".

I dint need a soothesayer to tell me that my hair was used to define me.

Many other women go through this all over the world. Using our hair to define us, label us and judge us without even giving us the chance to prove ourselves .

And just like that, i was thrown out of securing my dream job like a pile of rubbish. Not because i wasnt qualified, but because of my hair .

Im guessing this trend amongst recruiters isnt going away any time soon.

Comments 8

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sycamore_may
Jun 07, 2016
Jun 07, 2016

Dear B.O.O,

I am sorry that your dream job did not work out for you. Perhaps it was for the best, knowing how you would have been treated (based on looks and not on credentials). I like the way you set up the story, as it kept me very interested -- I very much wanted you to get the job by the end of the piece and was shocked hearing the reason why they didn't choose you. 

I recently read an interview with an author who believed all interviews/auditions should be anonymous so there are no biases. This would be an ideal situation because our biases are so instilled in us that it becomes difficult to separate the person from the bias.

Good luck on future job ventures, I hope to read more of your work soon.

Best Wishes 

B.O.O
Jun 07, 2016
Jun 07, 2016

Hi sycamore May! Thank you so much for your beautiful words. I must admit that it felt good knowing you also agree with me that i wasnt treated fairly. Im glad i was able to keep you intrested all through to the very end .I just hope that someday, it would be a thing of the past to use physical atttibutes to measure people's abilities in a professional setting.

leila Kigha
Jun 08, 2016
Jun 08, 2016

Hello B.O.O

i am so proud of you for speaking out against such subtle yet so present discriminations. I personally understand what you went through because i am a nappy girl myself! I remember when i decided to get the big chop, many could not understand how and why i would settle for our "strong and coarse" african hair. Many did and still look at me funny! you know what i told them ..'My Natural hair is not a trend... its simply MINE! God made me SUPER - NATURAL!'

Today i am happy to see many more young ladies  going nappy every day and embracing the beauty therein. The day is come my dear, when you will no longer be judged based on your hair style  or sex but by your competence. With voices like yours speaking out against such around the world, we are sure of making the difference! keep up the good work.

cheers to your imminent success!

B.O.O
Jun 08, 2016
Jun 08, 2016

Hi kariz! Thank you so for your words of encouragement. #teamnaturalhairalways

helen.ng
Jun 08, 2016
Jun 08, 2016

Hello,

What we look like to others should not be the deal-breaker in terms of securing employment opportunities. That is not what a meritocracy is. Having the right skills should be of the utmost priority when entering the workplace, as that is what truly contributes to productivity and generativity. I am deeply sorry you had to undergo such an experience that dealt with your physical appearance, but thank you for sharing this story with the community. 

With kindest regards,

Helen Ng

B.O.O
Jun 08, 2016
Jun 08, 2016

Thank you helen. Its a shame this still happens in the 21st century. Its just a huge slap to the african woman who would rather be proud of her natural hair than to pour loads of chemicals on her hair .

Carolyn Seaman
Jun 09, 2016
Jun 09, 2016

Hello dear,

Thank you for sharing such a fantastic piece. Your storytelling was so rich as you completely drew me into your experience. 

You have shared an experience that I believe many young women can relate to as they aspire to achieve their dreams in the corporate world. Women are constantly pressured into fitting themselves into all sorts of boxes; 'the way she talks', 'the way she dresses', and now, it's her make-up or her hair....

One can almost wonder what else a woman is to do to be herself an live out her dreams. I am deeply saddened to learn that you did not get the job you had dreamed. But, I hope that you find some comfort in the thought that you probably would have not fulfilled your dreams in that space that seeks to limit you.

Please, continue to be yourself and you would get the right work environment that benefits from your skills and expertise while you continue to be the best you can be. 

Best wishes,

B.O.O
Jun 09, 2016
Jun 09, 2016

Hi Carolyn, i still feel bad about the whole experience but ive decided to learn from it, let others also learn of whats going on and hope i just saved someone else from experiencing what i went through .