Tashara Parker has worn her hair in its natural state many times while working as a broadcast journalist, but one of her recent hairstyles really struck a chord with viewers.
Earlier this month, the anchor and reporter for WFAA-TV in Dallas was inspired to wear her hair in a style that featured multiple buns running down her head. And the reactions from viewers wasn't quite what she had expected.
After appearing on-air that day, Parker shared a photo of the hairstyle on Twitter along with a message: "I’m so grateful for those of you who continue to support me. I joked around asking people what they thought of this hairstyle and overwhelmingly many of you supported it, but a few said it was unprofessional. It begs the question, who determines what’s professional these days?"
The post sparked a candid conversation about natural hair and quickly garnered more than 1,000 comments, 9,000 retweets and 48,000 likes. Praise dominated the replies, with many Twitter users sharing their love for the style.
Parker told TODAY over email that she did encounter some haters, but that's something she's used to as a media personality.
"The reaction from the community has been largely supportive, but of course there are critics. I've been told in the past by a viewer ... 'You look like you stuck your hand in an electrical socket,' referring to my natural curl pattern," she said.
The journalist said she fell in love with the bun updo after sporting it for a photo shoot. She thought it was neat and professional.
"Of course, I contemplated whether viewers would complain about the hairstyle, but I certainly didn't think it would turn into this massive, wide-reaching conversation about hair discrimination," she added.
After wearing the style on-air, Parker worked on a piece for WFAA-TV's website titled "'Who determines what's professional?': Black hair shouldn't be a topic for debate." In it, she argued that "the way hair grows out of your head shouldn't be a trending topic on social media" and touched upon the Crown Act, a bill seeking to make hair discrimination in schools and at work illegal.
After watching her story go viral, the journalist hopes that people keep the conversation going and think twice before they call natural hairstyles "unprofessional."
"I hope by witnessing the outpouring of support surrounding this story that people will be more accepting of what isn't considered 'the norm' in TV news or in companies around the world," she said. "It is my desire that we normalize hairstyles worn by Black women that are considered atypical by some, so that we aren't having this same conversation decades from now."
Parker has a message for other Black women who might be hesitant to let their natural hair out in the workplace.
"I encourage them to show up authentically as themselves in their respective workplace settings," she said. "I also encourage companies to do the work to ensure business environments are more inclusive and equitable, so women of color, specifically Black women, aren't afraid to show up to work with their natural hair or natural hairstyles."