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FEATURES Aug 15 2012 3:20PM

Corporate Transitioners: Kim Jackson Tells Her Story

Kim Jackson, Senior Marketing Specialist
Number of Years Natural: 4 ½ (transitioned for 1 ½ years)

1. What was your normal hair routine like before transitioning?

Prior to transitioning, my routine was kind of all over the place. I was never quite adept at caring for or styling my own hair so I alternated between heading to the salon for relaxers every six to eight weeks and having girlfriends assist me with relaxing, styling and maintenance.

2. Why did you decide to transition?

It might sound cliché, but I had long, full and healthy hair as a young girl. After I was allowed to get my hair chemically treated, it began to thin out and break off, and just became generally unhealthy. Throughout my high school, college and post-collegiate years I struggled to get it to grow, but to no avail. Even at its healthiest, it would only grow to a certain point—then it would stop. After watching some other girlfriends transition (a thing I said I would NEVER do), I decided that maybe this might be the solution to my hair woes. In December of 2007, I decided to forego relaxing for as long as possible, to work hard at caring for my hair and to just see what happened. I didn’t tell anyone for a while because I wasn’t ready to claim that I was officially transitioning; but almost five years later I am fully natural and my hair is achieving health and length that I wasn’t sure would even be possible again.

3. How did your job receive your decision to go natural?

In an office environment where only a handful of employees are African-American, it can be a scary decision to do anything that might be deemed “too” different or questionable. But I was very lucky to have another woman in my office go natural via Big Chop prior to making my decision. I watched carefully how she was perceived—and I think her new look was mostly met just with curiosity about her decision, styling and subsequent growth. That gave me a positive outlook, and though I didn’t know if my decision would be fully understood, I felt safe that at least I wouldn’t be ostracized.

4. What advice do you have for women who are debating whether or not to transition in a corporate environment?

My advice to other women debating whether or not to transition in a corporate environment is to just go for it. A happier you makes for a happier employee. And be confident in your decision, your office style and in your hair itself. Be sure to present your most poised professional self, and do your best job with the work, as those are the only things that are within your control. I have found that in general, fear of the unknown is often what keeps us from trying something new; and that just as often the fear in our head is much bigger than the result of what we were afraid of. Take the first step and see where it leads you.


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