When interacting with other young women who look like me, especially concerning the "Natural" shenanigans, I often get the impression that "it's a choice", "you can still look professional" and "it's ok if you're subtle at first, and slowly let your "natural" come out as "they" get to know you" are considered "evolved" perspectives.
This type of thinking is the reason I haven't liked people. I am a human being. I have just as much a right as anyone else to show up in life exactly the way I happened. I do not have to slowly introduce myself to anyone. I do not have to gradually unleash myself.
I came from a world where people aimed to learn what it took to be upper middle class. Once they got the technique down, they did everything and followed all the rules. Then, they worked up the ladder in the hopes of one day being the most respected version of their group that could exist in the white male hierarchy of American humans. At best, they were the only one of them in the board room, perpetually disregarded and disrespected by their white male colleagues, but celebrated when they went back home to [insert minority group here]-landia. This was introduced to me as the best life I could possibly have by those who saw me as having "potential."
Only I never understood why I should strive for such a thing. So when opportunities arose that would allow me to position myself in such a way as to guarantee that future of disenchantment and overall ineffectiveness, I scoffed. I scoffed because I was too young and naive to understand that scoffing resulted in contempt from those who cherished the life of a marginalized token.
Freedom from oppression is a choice. Part of being free from oppression is letting go of the need to care whether or not who I am is "appropriate" in any "setting." If I am happy with who I am and what I look like, I'm not breaking any written laws that could result in the loss of my constitutional freedoms or unalienable rights, and I'm not harming children or animals, then I am appropriate. Anybody who doesn't think so simply isn't buying what I'm selling. As a result, they don't matter. I challenge anyone to convince me they exist.
It's up to us to stand up and be proud. Our children are watching us and they need our support.