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Endia Beal’s “Can I Touch It?” Project

Endia Beal, a tall black woman with a bright red afro, endured a great deal of curiosity about her hair – so much so that several of her colleagues wanted to touch it. It seemed to be an unusual sight for them in this setting.

This experience led her to develop the “Can I Touch It?” project seen below. Middle aged white women were given “black hairstyles,” and photographed in a corporate portrait. Her hope is to be able to start a conversation about what is considered “acceptable” in strict corporate settings, and how this can differ across genders, races, and generations. Enjoy…x
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KWilliamsBryson
KWilliamsBryson

The classic pearls in different permutations are a startling contrast to the hair designs on the women in my age and ethnic group. We are boring, aren't we?

Patrice Phillips
Patrice Phillips

Alexa Lightbourne Thought you might find this interesting...

Suzi Coombs
Suzi Coombs

The last two look pretty good. The last one is rockin' those locks. She just needs some more make-up and jewelry. The first 4 are pretty bad but some if it is the styles they chose. I used to braid my hair a lot when I was younger and could have come up with some better looking styles. The first and second ones, reallly? We all know nobody rocks the braids like the sistas!

Suzi Coombs
Suzi Coombs

The last two aren't bad. I think the last lady is rockin' those locks!

Samaria Rhett
Samaria Rhett

These hair styles do not look suitable for a corporate position rather on a black person or white person. A well groomed Afro, braidout, full head braid, twists, locks, or a natural pin up can look professional. These hair styles look juvenile.African American hair can look professional without mimicking other races...but these hairstyles look inappropriate for an adult professional

Eunice Sykes
Eunice Sykes

none of them are really smiling...they don't like the dos either!

KWilliamsBryson
KWilliamsBryson

The lack of smiles is not a reflection on the hairdos - it's just what women in our age group do in formal photos....

Chamagne Williams
Chamagne Williams

You have to have a certain level of confidence to pull off some of the styles we as African American women wear and these particular women lack that confidence, they look scared to death.

KWilliamsBryson
KWilliamsBryson

Disagree re: "scared" - it's a function of our age/ethnic group's "serious" demeanour required to exert authority in a world dominated by privileged white males coupled with societal expectations of our cohort. They seem quite normal to me....

AnnavsAuna Alexander
AnnavsAuna Alexander

This has me stuck...... These women look crazy as hell, I'm sorry. Not trying to say only black women can Rock these styles, we just look better doing it... Maybe its their age, I could be wrong , ijs, that is all

Kelli Johnson-Henderson
Kelli Johnson-Henderson

Very insightful and creative!! I rather enjoyed seeing them all and the messages behind it.

Bongeka Madiba
Bongeka Madiba

They could've used cuter models tho. Women in my company are mostly beautiful

Bongeka Madiba
Bongeka Madiba

I've had natural hair for my whole 8 year career; which many would consider a successful career. I think in corporations cleanliness is more important than type. If you're white with dirty hair nobody will like that; same thing goes for a dirty locked girl

Yvette Toles
Yvette Toles

remember when I was in the controller's office and had a short "fro"-took a leave and came back with with relaxed style a comment was "now you look more like a white girl". maybe not as threatening,maybe more relatable, looking like the position I held....)

Sabrina Nelson
Sabrina Nelson

interesting comments Endia Beal good way to make us thisnk

Tiki Merritt Curry
Tiki Merritt Curry

Professional/corporate is what it is. It's not anyone placing parameters around black women's hair. I've been natural in corporate America and I'm conservative with my look. I will not walk in the office looking like I just applied for a job at Black Ink! Don't agree? Look at the pictures. All the ladies are dressed in boring black suits, buttoned down shirts or shells, minimum jewelry and make up. And if the pictures had smell-o-vision, they would have on very subtle perfume. Believe me, the "fashionista" will not be CEO at one of these companies. Don't let TV shows and movies fool you. Besides, these hairstyles are those that someone with relaxed tresses will mainly wear. And, I NEVER had anyone ask if they could touch my hair when it was straightened. Quite honestly, five of these styles depicted look very juvenile anyway. Not the best examples to use. However, there's no way these women's hair could have been reproduced to look like our natural tresses (which is really what's asked to be touched).

Ely Royana
Ely Royana

the box braids look astonishing on that woman.

Ely Royana
Ely Royana

They all look nice except for Meek Mills in the middle top row and Cassie and the bottom #1

Jessica Olivia Derose
Jessica Olivia Derose

I love the finger waves, cornrows, and flat twist with the flips. I think they look cute. *Kanye Shrug*

Toya Banks
Toya Banks

Tamara Carr She finna callllll Tyrone cuz you can't tell her she ain't cute

Toya Banks
Toya Banks

Terrence Sterling Right cthu I saw this and was rolling they look stupid

Holla Black
Holla Black

I believe, white ppl are captivate by our differences our hair our complexions, and our differences. Black ppl who all ready know u cant touch a sisters hair ask, can I touch ur hair? Why is it such a big deal? I think these women would look better with black age appropriate hair styles. Make up yea they look plain. What about all the other cultures who made up these hair styles. And what about the discrimination that we as black ppl pass onto each other. I truly feel when we hold ourselves with high standards no one will come for us with unacceptable BS. This should be a study on blacks vs blacks. We always want to look externally to find out what we already know. Find out what's the issue with blacks and then study a solution!!! What a waste of time

Erica Rice
Erica Rice

Point is you can work with your natural texture and make it office appropriate. At the end of the day, no matter how "corporate" a job is they can't tell you not to wear your texture. But they CAN tell you to neaten up.

Robin McLean
Robin McLean

Sooo sick of being defined by, or having to seek the approval of, "others" based on what makes them feel comfortable or feel cool.

Janelle Johnson
Janelle Johnson

Endia Beal love to see your work provoking the world to deeper thought and conversation!

Tracey Jordan
Tracey Jordan

The happiness in my life depends on the quality of my thoughts, I believe as women we should all empower each other to embrace our individuality

LillianBerrysweet Freeman
LillianBerrysweet Freeman

What is natural really? Is it an Afro or is it just without a relaxer? Get over it already. This fight is totally getting on my nerves personally. Do what's acceptable and move in. Ijs

April L Everett
April L Everett

Oh I will also say, until recently, for 8 years, I was fortunate to work for a CEO that was a black woman and our senior executive management was heavily populated by blacks. My natural hair was FULLY accepted. That's not representative of most companies.

Nelly Ky
Nelly Ky

I do not see what is unprofessional about any of these hairstyle I would rock them anytime anywhere!!!

Junith Michel
Junith Michel

I don't see the point of this....really, it's just another way they want to keep people of color "separated" and not able to relate to Caucasian Americans.

Mia West Cherif
Mia West Cherif

ahhh, i remember the first time i was asked. it was when I was working at nasdaq. an older white lady(freda was her name) asked if she could touch my hair. how awkward. I shook off the shock&asked if I could touch her titties after that. she was agitated. imagine that. ask your "black friend" during off hours. I don't like to be violated or asked permission to be violated. don't care for physical contact&damn sure don't like to receive pets like an animal. I've never felt compelled to ask a person that i work with to "let me touch it". talk about a sense of entitlement.

April L Everett
April L Everett

Yes Angela, my hair is natural and has been for over the 20 year I've been in corporate America. What I have said, I've said out of my own experience and knowledge. Being natural I FULLY support freedom of hairstyle but also my natural state is NOT a stylish fad. There were times in kept my hair in braids or weaves just to keep it tamed or neat looking for my job. Now, for work, I twist out (up or down), or pull back in a natural bun and it works. I'm not coming to work with purple braided yarn, I'm just not doing it. Also you have to consider your business. If you work for a fashion magazine or something artistic, many of the faddish styles will work just because of the artistic type of atmosphere. But when work for companies that have guidelines about which side of the steps you walk up and down and strict dress codes it will be frowned upon.

Asma Blue
Asma Blue

Maybe they just look older (middle aged seems younger than those photographed)

Tammy Calhoun-Davis
Tammy Calhoun-Davis

Very interesting conversation, I work in corporate America and I maintain a certain look not because of my job a lot of it is ME, however I have naturally curly hair and often times I would love to just let it be but I have to maintain a certain appearance due to my profession