Written by: Megan Pugh, Office of Multicultural Affairs
In the spirit of social justice, it’s important to first mention that the concept of professional dress is firmly rooted in the hierarchy that places men — particularly wealthy, cisgender heterosexual white men — at the top of the social pyramid. In other words, your appearance is equated with your status, which reinforces the idea that those outside of business professional attire, are not as valuable to an organization. However, as folks have become more empowered to show up authentically and unapologetically, the landscape of work attire has changed tremendously.
For example, more Black women than ever are wearing their natural tresses (as well as beautiful braided and twisted protective styles) into their work spaces. No longer subscribing to Eurocentric standards of beauty, these women are showing that natural hair — curly, coiled, kinky, or loc’ed — are professional, PERIOD! We’re also seeing non binary folks and those whose gender presentation is not aligned with others’ assumptions, to wear what feels most natural to them. Additionally, folks in fat bodies are styling in their professional wear, uninhibited and unafraid of others’ discomfort with how their shapes and curves fit in their clothes. Stepping into a new space and challenging what others’ perceive as normal or attractive is a huge risk for those who do it, and it’s important to honor and respect the courage of those willing to do that work!