In this series we are sharing hair stories from women like you. This time it's all about Sky TV presenter Jacqueline Shepherd.
"When I started my media career I was still rocking pressed hair. During my time on radio I had countless conversations about hair and I started to consider how loaded my hair choices were.
I had permed hair between the ages of 12–15 and then a relaxer from 16 through to my early twenties. I unknowingly transitioned with braids —my hairdresser just literally guided me out of having my hair relaxed and it just happened organically! Even after that I pressed my hair for years.
"My hair has always been a personal choice not a 'pop political' one."
I returned to natural when I realised I was trying to conform to an unobtainable beauty aesthetic. One that meant that I was forcing my hair to do something so opposite to what it naturally did, and harming myself in the process. I found it offensive that as a black woman I should need to diminish my natural features in order to be considered "broadcast standard".
"I became acutely aware of the lack of women who looked anything like me in mainstream media."
In returning to natural I became acutely aware of the lack of women who looked anything like me in mainstream media. As someone working in this field, I felt a responsibility to do my part in bucking the trend.
Today I proudly embrace the features supposedly frowned upon on TV and thankfully have not been asked otherwise. Not to my face anyway!
"Real life should set the standard, not a fabricated, outdated belief."
I think more women would have the confidence to walk in their most authentic image if they saw that image of themselves reflected on the various platforms be it print, broadcast etc. Real life should set the standard, not a fabricated, outdated belief. In my opinion a great deal of unlearning needs to be done including the idea that afro hair is unprofessional and unacceptable.
I chose to wear my hair natural because it is truly who I am. I no longer feel the need to conform to a beauty aesthetic that diminishes my natural features.
Along my journey I have learned the importance of the products that I use on my hair. For me the best way to achieve the result of healthy hair is omitting junk filled products and sticking to natural products that nourish my strands and caresses my kinks.
My hair has always been a personal choice not a 'pop political' one, but the continuing conversation around prejudice or favouritism towards certain textures is one I am familiar with.
My hair texture has changed again and again. I'm far less concerned with the perfect braid out or twist out these days. I'm embracing an even more natural texture than before; I often go out with my hair completely un-manipulated.
I think women accepting their hair texture whether straight out of the shower, blown out or after a week of bantus is really important, whether your fro is large or small, keep it healthy and embrace it."
Do we subconsciously think Afro Hair is unprofessional?
Natural Hair Chronicles: THE CHALLENGE – Jacqueline Shepherd
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