'Be yourself, the world will adjust': Television reporter wears braids on-air in break from 'industry standard'

An African American woman broke industry standards by wearing braids on air (Photo courtesy of Lauren Kostiuk)
A news anchor broke industry standards by wearing braids on-air. (Photo: Courtesy of Lauren Kostiuk)

A television anchor is challenging industry standards by confidently wearing her hair in braids on-air.

Briana Collins, who is African-American, has been in the news industry for almost four years, most recently as an evening anchor at Fox Champaign, Ill. While she has always wanted to wear braids on TV, she didn’t think it was an option because bosses at previous jobs didn’t allow it. But Collins decided to take a chance and ask her new team if it was something she could do.

“I honestly wanted to wear my hair in braids to try something different. I was tired of doing my hair everyday and it’s just easier to maintain the weaves I was previously wearing,” she tells Yahoo Lifestyle. “Fox Champaign has been 100 percent supportive of my choice. And it feels great to have management that approves of your choice to be different.”

The anchor was inspired by another reporter, AJ Walker, an investigative news reporter based in West Palm Beach, Fla.

“She posted a photo of her braids a few months ago and I loved them. I thought, if she was able to wear them on air, then I might be able to, too,” she says. “She was definitely my inspiration and I give her credit for stepping out of the box before me.”

According to Collins, wearing straight hair onscreen has “always been the industry standard,” and anything else is deemed different and unprofessional.

“It’s just the way things have always been done in news. I can’t remember seeing anyone of any color with curly hair [when I was] growing up watching the news,” Collins says. “A lot of things change in the news industry but a certain look is one thing that has stuck around for a while.”

Collins says that this standard doesn’t make sense, and whether hair is “curly or straight, in locks or natural or in braids” shouldn’t be a consideration.

“That industry standard makes no sense to me,” she tells Yahoo Lifestyle. “I think the focus should be more directed on a journalist’s ability to tell a fair and balanced story than what’s on their head.”

The anchor posted photos of her braids on Facebook, and says she has since had many women reach out to her with stories about them being criticized for their brads, or “fearing they wouldn’t get a job if they didn’t take their braids out.”

However, Collins has one piece of advice for all of them: “Be yourself, the world will adjust.” She added that she wants women who feel like they’re being discriminated against to speak up. “Go through the proper channels and don’t feel like you don’t have options to take action against those who may have wronged you,” she says.

The public showed its support on her Facebook post, commenting about her professionalism and the importance of progressive thinking.

“Your professionalism and being centered is elevating you. It showed back here. Undeniably,” one person wrote.

I was just thinking about this the other day. It struck me that most black women in the news have straight hair and I was betting that wasn't a coincidence. You look great and I'm glad you found a good employer that's capable of progressive thinking,” another added.

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