Hairy Situations

“Yaya, are you coming?”

Bisi’s voice, deep and husky carried clear across the room, causing Yaya to look up from the storyboard she was working on. Bisi stood next to the hallway leading to the elevators, her jacket on, portfolio in hand.

“Girl…?” She widened her eyes and inclined her head. “It’s time for the meeting, come on! ”

The other occupants of the room, mostly other junior and mid-level  account managers looked expectantly at Yaya. Yaya and Bisi, everyone at Meacham and Pettigrew knew, were attached at the hip. They were the small advertising company’s  rising star account managers and it was their big day. Both women had coordinated to nab the attention of  Nadine  a major cosmetic company and today they presented their campaign to both Nadine and M&P’s executive. Success meant a huge contract for the company and definite promotions for both women. While they had worked as a team, everyone knew that it was Yaya’s persistence and attention to detail that would ultimately make the deal. Bisi saw big picture situations and had a feel for what was right. Yaya’s ability to solidify the concepts and communicate them effectively to graphic artists, copy editors and other people who worked to bring the campaign to life, and then review their work with almost manic meticulousness was what made their products top-notch. It was the expectation that Nadine would accept the campaign and Yaya would be point person working directly  with Nadine, while Bisi held down fort at M&P.

“I’m coming, Bisi, give me a second.” Yaya murmured, returning her attention to the story board she’d just received. It was for another campaign she was working on. Something was off but she could not put her finger on it. As was the case when she was thinking, she rubbed one of her chin length dreadlocks between her thumb and forefinger.


“Meeting starts in fifteen. That story board can wait.” Bisi walked towards the corner where Yaya sat, her heels clicking on the floor. “We gotta make a good impression today, woman. Let’s go!”

“I know… but something is…”

“Off, I know. We can look at it after the meeting and your big promotion. Right guys?” She looked around the room.

There were murmurs of “Yes!” and “Go, Yaya, go!”

Everyone knew how important this account was. Their paychecks probably depended on it.

“Alright alright,” Yaya chuckled and locked her computer. She stood up and ran her hands through her hair. “How do I look?”

“Like the next account manager for the M&P, Nadine account. But we gotta go to make that happen, luv. Chop chop.”

Bisi spun around and made for the elevators. Yaya shook her head and grabbed her portfolio.

“Goodluck Yaya!”

“You got this girl!”

“Go get’em!”

The calls of support and encouragement came from around the room. Yaya smiled and nodded as she walked past her colleagues.

I sure hope so, she thought to herself.

In the elevator, Bisi tapped her foot impatiently as they rode to the executive conference room.

“You are so impatient…” Yaya chuckled to her friend.

“I’m ready to make that money, girl.”

“I know right! Let’s hope they think it is as good as we think.”

“Oh they better. We worked our butts off. You worked your butt off. I bet they give you a fancy new office at Nadine’s HQ to sweeten the deal.”

“You know if they do, you’ll probably end up using it more than I do.”

“This is true.” Bisi flipped her hair over her shoulder.

“It is still so weird to see you without your dreads. That was a pretty sudden decision to get rid of them.”

Bisi’s nervous movements slowed a little.

“I know…” She seemed a little more subdued, her voice a little quieter. “I was ready for a change. I’d had dreads for so long.”

” Yup. We got them together what, summer before we started college? That was like 7 years ago. That was a long enough time. Aiyana did a good job with this weave though, you got that Naomi Campbell thing going on.”

“For what I pay her, I better be Naomi’s double.” Bisi grumbled good-naturedly and both women laughed. “Besides, it’s just hair right?”


Two hours later….

“What the hell just happened in there, Tom?”

Yaya faced Tom Cranfield, her manager across his desk, her fists clenched in fury, hot tears burning behind her eyes.

“Yaya, I am so sorry, you have to understand. We need this account but the folks at Nadine were adamant that they wanted Bisi and not you as their account manager.”

“But why? I basically put that campaign together single-handedly. You know it. They know it. Bisi knows it. You let them cut me out completely.”

“We made the decision that was best for M&P, Yaya. I know it screwed you over but we had to. Nadine was too big for us to let something as trivial as your hair get in the way of us getting them.”

Excuse me?”

Tom’s eyes widened as he realized what he had just said. A red flush crept up his face.

“Look. Nadine was reluctant to have either of you ladies as their account manager, seeing as you would have to work with their stakeholders. Something about you not exactly being the image their company wanted to project.” his eyes darted to her deadlocked hair.  “But they really liked the campaign you put together. Somehow Bisi must have found out. Why didn’t she tell you?”

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4 thoughts on “Hairy Situations

  1. Woah! I did not see that ending coming at all!

    Liked by 1 person

  2. I didn’t see that coming..Actually I was mad ’cause I change my hair like crazy and i work in a very professional envt..Thank God I am not in a very “image driven” job!! Damn that end..I would be pissed off


    • See, this is a quandary we face because while for some women, the choice to change hairstyle means little and they can go from natural to weave to whatever, for some, natural hair is a personal commitment and they do not want to change. But since we still live in a world where natural hair is regarded negatively in certain circles, they find themselves in the position where they are expected to “do something” about their hair in order to be able to access certain resources/benefits and this expectation that they should be able to do something stems partly from the fact that there are other black women who will change their hair. So it becomes a question of conform (as others seem to be able to do without problem) or sink. So women have choices either way, but it is important that we recognize that our choices can and do have consequences.


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