These are the stories that try black women’s souls…..such as, a Zara located in Toronto, where employee Cree Ballah was told by the store’s two managers that her pulled-back braids looked unprofessional. The managers, according to CBC News, instructed her to wear her braids down and attempted to fix them on the floor in front of other employees. Ballah is shown above wearing a similar hairstyle to the one she wore to work.
Twenty-year-old Ballah, who identifies as bi-racial, decided to file a complaint with the company’s human resources department, claiming discrimination. “My hair type is also linked to my race, so to me, I felt like it was direct discrimination against my ethnicity in the sense of what comes along with it,” said Ballah, who says she probably will quit her job and file a complaint with Ontario Human Rights Commission.
Zara issued a statement saying it had dealt directly with the employee and plans to keep the discussion private. It also said the company is diverse and multicultural and does not tolerate any form of discrimination. Zara said it doesn’t have a formal policy dictating employee hairstyles, just that the over all look should be professional.
Putting aside the many missing details of this particular story, one can’t help but think of the current cornrow hair trend, a style traditionally worn by black women that has been adopted as a very of the moment look by women of all shades. However, while Kim Kardashian and Rita Ora are celebrated for their braids (which traditional fashion media attempted to rebrand as “boxer braids”), everyday black women still have to deal with being told their braided hair looks unkempt and unprofessional.
Hopefully fashion and beauty editors will be mindful of stories like these and make every effort to avoid heaping on with pain-inducing coverage, in which creators’ ideas are not only stolen, but also looked down upon as somehow less than the reconfigured form. If you’re going to borrow or be inspired by, at least have some respect for the folks from whom you lifted your ideas.