A West Palm Beach investigative reporter is out here living her best hair life. According to Yahoo Lifestyle, AJ Walker — 10-year news veteran — is rocking box braids on-air for the first time.
For those of us rejoicing about NYC’s first-ever hair discrimination ban, Black women in most cities still face bias and backlash for how our natural hair grows out of our scalp and how we choose to rock it.
For AJ, it was restrictions on her hair. In a recent interview, she revealed, she could wear extensions, but her hair still had to be straight. Television stations have more legal wiggle room to dictate their reporters’ hairs, including length, color, and style.
“When I discussed the possibility of wearing braids on-air with stations, the answer was, ‘Let’s keep your hair the way it is,’” she told Yahoo. “To me, that was still a ‘no,’ although it wasn’t worded that way.”
That meant she could only get her hair braided in-between jobs.
“I took them out to go on job interviews out of concern that braids might hurt my chances of getting hired,” said AJ. “A long straight weave can help land you a job because you have ‘the look,’ but that isn’t really our look. That’s just an image we struggle to maintain,” she added.
But her mom’s passing inspired her to ask the station if she could change up her look.
“I missed my braids,” she said. “It is a skill my mother taught me…part of me felt like wearing my hair braided was preserving a part of her.”
And, surprise, the station said yes. AJ is now rocking a crown that reflects who she is. She hopes it will spark more national conversations about hair freedom
“Not many people realize that African-American and other women feel and often are forced to wear hairstyles that the company or news station deems acceptable,” said AJ. “Let us be ourselves. We are still professionals even if our hair is different.”