A beautiful young lady arrives at work, at Zara – a high end clothing store, in Toronto with her in box braids. The braids were pulled up into a ponytail. The manager of the store asked her to take her ponytail down. She complied and continued working. Shortly after taking down her ponytail another manager pulled her to the side and told her that her hair looked unprofessional. Both managers took, 20 year-old, Cree Ballah outside to further discuss her hair.
Ballah told CBS News, “They took me outside of the store and they said, ‘We’re not trying to offend you, but we’re going for a clean professional look with Zara and the hairstyle you have now is not the look for Zara,'”
Ballah also stated that her hair type is out of her control and she does her best to keep it tamed. I sarcastically use the word tamed, as a natural woman with a big afro that has often felt as Ballah felt when her managers approached her about her hair. If I have a formal engagement to attend or an interview the first thing I hear is, “What are you going to do with your hair?” But trust me the questions and comments get worse as the conversation continues.
I’ve heard the words “white privilege” used so often lately and I get a better understanding of the term every time I hear it. White privilege is looking at a black woman and telling her that everything about her is ugly. Her lips are too big, her hips are too wide, her butt is too big, her skin is too dark, and her hair is untamed, unprofessional, unkempt, nappy. That is until Angelina Jolie showed up with big lips, and J Lo and Kim K made wide hips and big butts cool and let’s not forget about the countless white Americans that continuously expose themselves to skin cancer just to be darker. BUT black women are ugly.
Cree Ballah you are beautiful, your hair and everything about you is beautiful. Your managers are just waiting for Kylie Jenner to start wearing box braids then they’ll be willing to accept your hair. And of course we all know how much your hair can affect the quality of your work.
Zara does not have any policies in their handbook that addresses hair so Ballah moved forward with filing a complaint against the managers. She met with corporate and was not happy with their response to the complaint. I can only assume we’ll be hearing more about this case soon.