Hairy Advice

Glamour Stirs Another Racial Debate

An editor from Glamour magazine kicked off yet another racial debate during what was intended to be a carefree luncheon at Cleary Gottlieb Steen & Hamilton law firm in New York City.

Ashley Baker, an associate editor who has since resigned, made remarks about the inappropriate nature of natural African hair during a slide show about the dos and don’ts of corporate fashion, according to an article in the August issue of The American Lawyer.

“First slide up: an African-American woman sporting an Afro. A real no-no, announced the Glamour editor to the 40 or so lawyers in the room. As for dreadlocks: How truly dreadful! The style maven said it was ‘shocking’ that some people still think it ‘appropriate’ to wear those hairstyles at the office. ‘No offense,’ she sniffed, but those ‘political’ hairstyles really have to go,” the national law journal reported.

The reaction to the presentation has been mixed among lawyers, members of the black community and beyond.

“Dreadful? Was she trying to be disrespectful or did she neglect to notice any blacks in the room?” asked Janet Vaughn of Washington, D.C. “Either way, I’m shocked that she actually gave a presentation about this. How could someone wearing their natural hair be making a political statement?”

Ingrid Sturgis, news director of AOL Black Voices, says to keep your job opportunities as plentiful as possible, it may be necessary to keep appearances neutral.

“It’s really a question of how you want to be seen by your potential employer,” Sturgis said. “It’s important to stay true to yourself and do what’s most comfortable, but know that you may unknowingly turn some people off.”

“When I began looking for jobs I wore my hair straight, but as time went on I grew my hair into long locs,” she explained. “After you break into the industry, your work will speak for itself and you can do whatever you want with your hair.”

Sturgis has worked in the professional media world for more than 20 years and has worn her hair in dreadlocs for about seven years. She recently cut her hair short and straight for a change of pace.

Vivia Chen, who wrote the article for The American Lawyer, said that Glamour sent an e-mail statement to the publication describing the editor as “a ‘junior staffer’ who spoke ‘without her supervisor’s knowledge or approval.'”

Chen added that Glamour cited its “longstanding commitment to inclusion and diversity.”