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Cut Your Natural Hair, Where Do You Draw the Line for a Job?



Natural Hair - August 2014 - 01
It can be very difficult finding a job but what if you finally get the job and they list out crazy or outrageous conditions that you must live by to be part of the organization.

For a few days, the story of African-American sailor Jessica Sims who was discharged from the Navy after 12 years for “failing to obey an order to cut off her natural hairstyle”, has gone viral.

According to Think Progress, the military has been under scrutiny for guidelines issued in March that critics believe were discriminatory toward African-American women.

Those regulations, according to the publication, “specifically forbid several hairstyles popular for black women who keep their hair natural, including twists, headbands, dreadlocks, or multiple braids that are larger than a quarter-inch.”

Since 2005, Jessica Sims has been wearing her hair the same way without any issues.

Chuck Hagel, the Secretary of Defense, in response to the backlash ordered the regulations to be relaxed to allow female service members have a wider range of hairstyles. But Sims’ hair still violates the rules.

Jessica Sims rejected repeated calls from the Navy to change her hairstyle, saying “I don’t think I should be told that I have to straighten my hair in order to be within what they think the regulations are, and I don’t think I should have to cover it up with a wig.”

According to the Navy, her hairstyle made it difficult for her to wear a gas mask, but Sims says she does not have ” a problem wearing safety helmets or gas masks”. She was fired but she has no regrets, “I still stand by it. I would do it again if I had to.”

Where do you draw line? Let’s Talk About It!


  1. bruno

    August 25, 2014 at 5:34 pm

    Sometimes I feel bad for women,you ladies have the raw deal,not only do you women bleed every month but men always want to put a woman in here place always. this is sexism at its highest,forcing a woman to do something she doesn’t want to do. No body should be discriminated based on race, gender or sexuality. There are no real feminists in nigeria, every woman wants to be married and be another man’s property, even the bible says “when a man is talking a woman should keep shut and if she disRespect’s a man, she should be slapped”

    • Arya Stark

      August 25, 2014 at 8:32 pm

      The bible says a woman should be slapped??? Are you an illiterate?

    • PP

      August 25, 2014 at 9:23 pm

      Bruno nke a sef!

    • Mama mia

      August 26, 2014 at 12:12 am

      Bruno we all know you are female so stop playing that card… back to the matter, I will if I do want the job easy and simple. I remember back in the day some schools demanded ladies cut their hair before entry if you liked the school enough you did as told. The fact that everything has to be a topic for debate these days bothers the hell out of me. If it isn’t the racist card then it is the gender one… I just tire for the worlds matter walahi!

    • Prima Donna

      August 26, 2014 at 4:53 pm

      But this wasn’t a requirement when she got the job 9 years ago. If it was, I would have blamed her.

    • ao

      August 26, 2014 at 1:13 am

      Women should be slapped per the Bible??? Please cite chapter and verse so that I can read for myself.

    • chinco

      August 26, 2014 at 3:34 am

      Being married doesnt mean you are another man’s property that in itself is a sexist statement along with the ‘bleeding every month’… I think the real issue here is some form of racism ( yes I said it), I have had my natural hair for some years and I cant imagine a boss probably of another race telling me to change my hair style especially after being in service for 12 years…thats so wrong. To Bruno once again there are many people who do not accept sexism in any form in Nigeria

    • Bibi

      August 26, 2014 at 8:41 am

      You must have read an earthly bible written by Bruno himself.

    • Iya

      August 26, 2014 at 9:36 am

      Lol…chai…Brubru…i really truly feel so bad for you…your life must be so crappy…lol

    • Anonymous

      August 26, 2014 at 10:34 am

      You realize you can skip commenting altogether yeah??? You know its not by force abi??

    • chinwe

      August 26, 2014 at 10:55 am

      where in the bible mr.?

  2. nene

    August 25, 2014 at 6:37 pm

    but they’re women with natural hair in the navy, no?

  3. @edDREAMZ

    August 25, 2014 at 7:14 pm

    If a job demands yu cut ur hair then yu just gat to obey or quit the job simple….. Soldiers cut their hair skin cut in this part of naija am residing and is not bcos they want to but the oga at the top ask them to…. So this is not applicable to the women only but to everyone…..

  4. el patron

    August 25, 2014 at 8:07 pm

    What is hair? Why lose your job because of hair? Misplaced priority..rubbish! Its only African Americans that complain rubbish things like these. Nonsense is that hair paying you now? If you want to wear your hair like a hippie go start your business.

    • Que

      August 25, 2014 at 10:32 pm

      And as this hair is now, it looks like hippie hair? You clearly never red the full arguement well….her hair met the requirements for wearing any protective clothing and being in combat… which means it didnt affect her ability to serve….. if they still got a problem isn’t it worth looking into??…. .you think there are millions of people lined up to take up military service anywhere??… look around you….if u’re in d states u know u cant finish watching any program on tv without one commercial tryin to seduce the public into enlisting….. the military has never needed hands like now… yet you discharge a capable soldier….for hair? Are u alright?

    • NaijaPikin

      August 26, 2014 at 3:27 am

      Perhaps you need to educate yourself on this issue. Why weren’t white women told to cut their hair. It is discrimination when you suddenly wake up and create new rules that affect only 1 racial group (go and read up on the list).

      Now keep in mind this lady has served her country for 12 years, this hair requirment issue just recently came up. How was she wearing her masks, helmets, any head gear 5 years ago? Why wasn’t it an issue then, but it is an issue now.

      Discrimination of any kind is an injustice to humanity. Today, they arr targeting a number of black women, tomorrow who will they target?

    • Omo1

      August 26, 2014 at 11:36 am

      Bella Naija’s post heading is misinforming..she was not told to cut her hair but to carry it in a way other than what she has on the pic. The report says she has been wearing her hair in that way since 2005…on a pondering note..who does that though!

  5. T-girl

    August 25, 2014 at 11:34 pm

    @Bruno, it’s okay to have opinions. However, please remember opinions are NOT facts. The Bible does NOT permit a man to slap a woman. Not in any context. Galatians 3:28 says “there is no male or female and all of you are one in Christ”. Also, Ephesians 5:25 says husbands love your wife as Jesus christ loved the church and gave himself up for her. So, it’s okay to not believe in God and the Bible; that’s your prerogative BUT please, do not lie against the Bible.

  6. Ibukun

    August 26, 2014 at 12:29 am

    But really it’s just hair. Maybe it’s not to her though, it’s probably more than hair. but every time I see the stress some women go through because of their “hair status” i’m like seriously, it’s really just hair!

  7. Ibiene Pepple

    August 26, 2014 at 1:14 am

    I don’t think this was about gender or race, it was an issue of work policy and working conditions. Its either you’re in or you’re out, you cannot be bigger than your employer. Its so unfortunate she choose her hair over her job after 12yrs of labour. Misplace priority if u ask me

  8. ao

    August 26, 2014 at 1:21 am

    This is more than just an issue of a soldier refusing to wear a hairstyle that does not impede her ability to execute the duties of her job. As stated in the article, the soldier expressed that she is able to wear the necessary face/head apparel with her locks. Therefore, the issue here is white supremacy; that is, using white standards of what is an acceptable hairstyle to evaluate the appropriateness of a hairstyle that is popular among African-Americans. It would be different if the locks were “wild” and all over the place, so to speak. That is not the case here. From the picture, the soldiers hairstyle is neatly packed, tucked away, and presentable. The way she has styled it is no different from someone with straight, flowing hair putting their hair in a bun.

  9. zoomzoomzoom

    August 26, 2014 at 4:07 am

    There are rules and regulations guiding every organization. In the United States of America, cutting one’s hair really low is the order of the day. This was not a case of racism or sexism (women are the first to shout out gender equality& all those talks about what a man can do, a woman can do better ish).
    This lady knew what she was signing herself up for, the laws were made long before she joined the military and the laws will remain the same way even after she has been discharged from the military.
    The military can not change the laws because of every single person’s opinion on how things should be done. Shape up or ship out!

    • zoomzoomzoom

      August 26, 2014 at 4:09 am

      I meant ‘in the United States of America military formations”

    • Non professional opinion

      August 26, 2014 at 9:21 am

      I disagree about racism. If you read the list of forbidden hairstyles, they are things you would only see black people do so one race is being singled out. When I was at boarding school in the uk, a particular teacher was so enraged that my hair was in braids. He complained that it was unfair that I was allowed to have what he considered an elaborate hairstyle when other girls had ponytails etc. he wanted to know why I didn’t wear my hair straight like everyone else. Would he have supported me being driven up to London every 6 weeks to retouch my relaxer? White people are generally ignorant about black hair and because so many of us wear weaves, relaxers and wigs, they assume that is our “normal” hair. These “laws” are not old as you have suggested rather a recent response to the upsurge in black women wearing their natural hair. It is discrimination pure and simple.

    • NaijaPikin

      August 26, 2014 at 12:06 pm

      Clearly ypu are just talking without being informed……the laws were just made within 1-2 years. Read up on it and return to comment as an informed person.

  10. Mystique

    August 26, 2014 at 10:45 am

    @Bruno, for someone who doesn’t believe in God, you sure have a curious mind….. What took you to the bible in the first place??? Anyway, let me answer you:

    It was common practice in those days that men would go to the synagogue to study the LAW and interpret it……..women didn’t have that privilege. Apostle Paul in his letter to the Corinthians advised that ‘ women should keep quiet in the churches, for they are not authorized to speak, but should take a secondary and subordinate place’ ……….. in this context he meant that women should be silent and listen to the preaching and if they don’t understand what is said, they can ask their husbands when they get home rather than ask questions in church. This is just a way to create orderliness in the house of God.

    ******But in Acts of the Apostles, it is written that ‘In the last days, God says, I will pour out my Spirit on all people. Your sons and daughters will prophesy, your young men will see visions, your old men will dream dreams’…. How can a woman prophesy if she doesn’t open her mouth????
    The LAW required for women to be silent in the church to avoid noise making but GRACE allows women to prophesy bcos the spirit of God can work through anyone whether man or woman.

    • Tincan

      August 26, 2014 at 12:26 pm

      Mystique, sit down for that appropriate word! You’ve just taught me something re. Law and grace. *backslides out of post*

  11. chinwe

    August 26, 2014 at 10:55 am

    where in the bible mr.?

  12. Omo1

    August 26, 2014 at 11:32 am

    It is not a hidden fact that while working in the army (and anywhere for that matter) you have to be regulated on what standard to follow! The army is the army, you abide strictly by their rules, regardless of your sex (they don’t give a damn). And if that is the hair I am seeing in that pic, then what is the big deal?!

    This people should stop making a fuss over nothing. If I find a job in an organisation and the pay is really huge, and they determine how to carry my natural hair, as long as it is not in violation to humanity, Omo what is natural hair? If its worth it I will do as said!

  13. Glowing

    August 26, 2014 at 11:38 am

    Please…Is the Woman pictured above the Article’s ‘Jessica Sims?’ I mean the lady who was discharged?
    Besides, I believe the place of order and submission should not be tossed aside If it indeed as simple as the headlines make it That she refused to obey the order to cut her natural hair…Sure she should have, except there was a “clause”, One cannot usurp Authority over another when it is the individual’s obligation to serve. A Servant cannot be greater than the Master. Otherwise, I guess some other issues may have been going on where she served aside making ‘her hair’ the main port of call.
    I do Understand Racism exists, but it should not be used as an excuse to fall short when an Instruction is given. There might have been a Document she signed when she joined the Navy that listed terms of Service. If she has a defense against their actions she then needs to prove it. But if proven otherwise, her actions may not have been right. That’s where the line is drawn.

    • NaijaPikin

      August 26, 2014 at 12:09 pm

      Perhaps your job should tell you to bleachh or get fired. Then maybe you will understand discrimination

  14. sum1special

    August 26, 2014 at 11:54 am

    I wont be a part of any job that acts me to cut my hair oh.

    • Omo1

      August 26, 2014 at 12:06 pm

      @sum1special…She was not asked to cut her hair dear…Bella Naija’s misleading header. She was asked to wear her hair in a different styling. She has been wearing her hair in this particular way since 2005

    • NaijaPikin

      August 26, 2014 at 3:49 pm

      If you have dreads, there’s no changing your hair style unless you cut it?

  15. Glowing

    August 28, 2014 at 11:01 am

    @Naijapikin…With due respect, listen to the voice of reason.
    It is the Navy and not a regular job. Even regular jobs have standards. Every Organization has laid out values and rules. Its either you obey or you don’t. If you do the latter, it has it’s consequences. If she was asked to style it differently like @Omo1 said, then she should have.
    Assuming you are a Boss, and you have a Brand that needs to be upheld, which when breached could lead to losses, wouldn’t you make sure it is followed?
    An Engineer is not allowed within some work sites without Personal Protective Equipments (P.P.E.’s), because it poses risk to the worker, and the Organization might be held responsible for the loss of life when Safety Rules are not obeyed in case of an Accident. It is the Same in her Case. Rules are Rules Bro. No Sentiments! It’s the concept of Submission.

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