A Florida-based television reporter finally got a chance to wear a natural hairstyle for the first time in her career.

AJ Walker has been a journalist for ten years but couldn’t wear her hair in its natural state because of stringent rules about her appearance.

“There are many limitations placed on on-air personalities when it comes to our look,” Walker told Yahoo Lifestyle. “Your station makes it clear that they are within their rights to have control over how long or short your hair is, and hair color, whether or not you can wear extensions, braids, or natural hair.”

Walker would approach superiors at her past jobs about changing her hair, but she was always shot down.

“When I discussed the possibility of wearing braids on-air with stations, the answer was, ‘Let’s keep your hair the way it is,’ ‘We like your hair the way it is’ and ‘That’s too dramatic of a change,'” Walker said. “To me, that was still a ‘no,’ although it wasn’t worded that way.”

Walker would only wear braids when she was in-between jobs, but when her mother died, her desire to wear them on-air grew.

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“I had worn braids several months before getting hired when I was in between jobs, but I took them out to go on job interviews out of concern that braids might hurt my chances of getting hired. But I missed my braids,” she added. “It is a skill my mother taught me. When she died a few months ago, part of me felt like wearing my hair braided was preserving a part of her.”

She approached officials at CBS12 about changing her hair, but this time she got the answer she was hoping for.

“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,” Walker said. “Let us be ourselves. We are still professionals even if our hair is different.”

Walker is the latest journalist to embrace her roots on-air. The debate about the professionalism of natural hair jumped off again when Brittany Noble-Jones shared her negative experiences at her former jobs.

"I was told my natural hair is unprofessional and the equivalent to [my boss] throwing on a baseball cap to go to the grocery store,” Noble-Jones wrote in an essay. “He said, 'Mississippi viewers needed to see a beauty queen.' He even asked, 'why my hair doesn't lay flat.'"

Francesca Amiker of 11 Alive in Atlanta wore faux locs to display her solidarity with Noble-Jones and other Black journalist dealing with similar issues.

"Black women are gorgeous and we come in alllll different ways which is why I choose to rock multiple natural hairstyles on-air daily,” Amiker wrote on Instagram. There are young girls and much older women who see [their] hair represented on local news and go ‘Damn, I AM enough!’ I refuse to fry my hair just so you will feel ‘comfortable.’ If I want to wear my natural hair, a protective style or anything in between, I will.”

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