We are highlighting a previous episode of the ¿Quién Tú Eres? podcast, where we explore the conflict we often face between "professionalism" & being our authentic selves.
Carla Gualdron is a proud Colombiana-Dominicana devoted to giving back to her community by using her journalism expertise to inspire young people to write. And in this conversation, Carla tells us what it was like for her when she transitioned into having her natural hair and how she has made sure to find ways to express her authentic self, especially as a leader and Program Director for Teens In Print, WriteBoston.
These are some of the episode highlights:
"Why do I need to suppress that? If you don't like my PAJON, then that's on you." -Carla Gualdron
Carla grew up around women who care a lot about appearance and having their hair perfect and straight. But that never really resonated with her. So, back in 2017, Carla made the conscious decision to let her hair be natural.
Instead of being celebrated, she received discouraging comments from older members of her family: “We don't get it. Go straighten your hair. You look like a loca.” And at her old job, her male co-workers would ask her if she could straighten her hair because they liked it better that way. But, in the end, she decided she did not need to straighten her hair to make someone else feel comfortable or attracted to her.
"I'm a professional, but I'm also... me." -Carla Gualdron
Being a professional does not mean we have to stop being ourselves. Our uniqueness is a strength, and that is how Carla has chosen to view it.
Being in a position when she often needs to speak with potential funders, it would seem that she had to present herself perfectly in the way she spoke and dressed, and even with her hair. But she found that when she did this, it wouldn't read genuinely. But once she started to marry both her authentic narrative while looking polished (but still like herself), she could connect much more with people.
"Ever since 2017, I have been more intentional about my hair and making sure I have that conversation with my students." -Carla Gualdron
Carla believes in creating a space that allows young people to express themselves. She knows that as a leader, she has a platform to positively influence the youth that she serves and be a trusted adult with whom they can have conversations about issues they may be having and still feel understood and well-received.
And when it comes to her hair, anytime students would wonder why she didn’t straighten her hair anymore, Carla would see this spark of interest as an opportunity to have an open conversation about it with them.
Carla works to empower young people just like she was empowered as a teen!
Have a story to share? Let us know here for an opportunity to be featured in the podcast!