"Here’s a reminder to be the representation you wish to see (in any space)!"
Believe it or not, there's still controversy over hair and how people with kinky hair types can wear their hair in professional settings. There are only 19 states that have passed the CROWN Act, which bars the discrimination of protective hairstyles worn by people that have kinky hair types. There continue to be instances where children have been unable to walk at graduation or attend school, and adults that have been fired for protective hairstyles that are often seen as unkempt or unprofessional.
The prevalence of discriminatory dress code policies that often include specific hairstyles means that for decades, in an effort to look "professional," women with kinky hair have used chemical straighteners, which have recently been linked to uterine cancer. While some still use straighteners, many simply hide their hair with wigs or weaves, and men may cut theirs off to find and maintain employment.
But this practice makes for a lack of representation in the workforce for diverse hairstyles in professional settings, and that's exactly why KDKA news anchor Royce Jones wore cornrows to work. KDKA is a Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, news affiliate for CBS News, where Jones is a reporter and evening anchor. He typically wears his hair loose and curly but recently got his hair braided and wore them on camera.
People that have very curly to kinky hair textures have more fragile hair strands and have to use different products and styles to protect it from breakage. Cornrows, box braids and two-strand twists are all examples of protective styles to keep hair from breaking. Nevertheless, wearing protective styles in corporate settings is still a novel concept, even as people in charge learn more about what goes into caring for kinky hair textures.
That's what makes Jones' move so bold. While people are more accepting of different hairstyles, it's not often represented in professional roles, especially where the attire is classified as "business." Yet, here Jones was, wearing a suit and tie sitting behind his anchor desk with freshly braided cornrows.
The anchor took to social media to express the reason he decided to wear his hair braided on air and thank people for their support.
"Here’s a reminder to be the representation you wish to see (in any space)! Feeling confident, happy and proud wearing my braids this week! Thanks for all of your supportive/encouraging messages. And s/o to my stylist, Mia, for doing the thing," Jones wrote.
The comments on his post were extremely supportive from fans and coworkers alike.
Fellow reporter Briana Smith wrote, "Love it! You can rock anything & everything! Keep being you! That’s why people love you my friend!"
"Braids on KDKA!! You look fabulous! CONGRATULATIONS," one commenter wrote.
"Royce, you’re the total package, good looking as heck, a great desk reporter and field reporter and greatly entertaining when you “step out” of the narrow reporter box like you do with Ray…and the braids? Honey, you’re fire," another person said.
"I love that you challenge the old stodgy rules about what a news anchor looks like. You keep on rockin’ it," one person wrote.
Clearly, Jones has the support of the masses in his decision to wear braids on air. Representation of protective styles in professional settings is desperately needed, and it's obvious people are happy Jones is helping set the tone.
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