Wednesday, March 10, 2010

The politics of hair

I didn't realize that hair could be such a negative thing, until yesterday. My husband has been wanting a particular job for quite some time. He has a friend working at the particular place who said that he was pretty sure after his recommendation that he would get the job. We were very excited. Hubby dressed up for the interview in dress pants, button down shirt and dress shoes. He was looking sharp. I braided his hair in very small conservative, neat rows. No zig zags or anything crazy for the interview.

The interview seemed to go very well so imagine our surprise when they called Monday and told him he did not get the job. His buddy went and asked the person in charge of hiring why he didn't hire him. The man said he had a great interview but didn't get the job because of his braids. AHHH He knew he'd have to cut his hair if he was given the job but didn't figure he should have to cut his hair for a job he didn't even have yet.

I don't think it's right that he has to cut off his hair to get a job, as long as he keeps in neatly braided back, why do they care? Women at this job can have any length of hair. At the same time, we need income so if that's all he can find right now is a job that requires him to cut off his hair, he will. It's still a shame really!!! He loves his long hair, and I love caring for it.

Who made these rules of what everyone should look like?

Here is a piece of an interesting petition I found online concerning men with long hair:

Both the banking industry and the estate agency industry will not hire men with long hair and this is perfectly legal. Not only is it legal, there has been legal precedence set. In the case of Smith v Safeway 2000, a man who was dismissed from his job on the deli counter because his hair grew too long to be kept under his hat, took a claim of sex discrimination against his employer. The case reached the Court of Appeal who ruled that this did not constitute sex discrimination. They stated that an appearance code which applies 'conventional standards' will be seen to apply an even handed approach between the sexes and not to be discriminatory. In this case Mr Smith had argued that the appearance code was discriminatory because to impose a permanent change of hairstyle would mean he would also have to wear his hair short outside of work. The Court of Appeal held that a restriction which extends beyond the workplace is a factor to be taken into account in considering whether the rule treats one sex less favourably but is not conclusive by itself.

Why is the establishment so against long-hair, or protecting the HUMAN RIGHTS of men who have long-hair? There are that if the law was changed, then it would open up cases for men wishing to wear skirts, make-up, facial piercings, etc. This is incorrect. All of these things can be removed/changed for the course of the work day. If someone is forced to cut their hair, then they can't magically grow it back when the leave work. This affects the individual both inside and outside the work place.

Also, the term “conventional standards” is erroneous. Who sets the conventional standard. Who decides this. In young males today, both ear-rings and eyebrow piercings seem to be more and more commonplace. Could a young male demand that he be allowed to wear these whilst working for a bank? Perhaps he should... after all, it is a “conventional standard”. Do these institutions demand that women grow their hair. After all, isn't it “traditional” that men have short hair and women long hair?


  1. The last line is what I was thinking. They need to require women's hair to be below the collar if they want a clean cut work place. That's ridiculous. If that was a condition they should have asked him in the interview if he was willing to cut his hair.

  2. Thank-you!!! ....EXACTLY he knew he would have to cut his braids for the job so they should have just asked him in the interview if he was willing to do that!


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