You have a right to wear your hair the way you want it.
Unless you’re at work. Or at school.
In 2010, Chastity Jones aced her interview and was offered a job. But when she went into the company to fill out the paperwork, a human resources manager noticed her dreadlocks. Chastity was told she’d have to get rid of them if she wanted to work there. She chose to walk away instead.
The Equal Employment Opportunity Commission took up the case, claiming racial discrimination.
Six years later, a federal court of appeals held that the company had the right to require its employees to conform to its expectations in dress and grooming. Personal appearance is not protected under the law.
Students have always known what it’s like to be told what they can and can’t wear at school.
But for students of color, those restrictions often go even further.
In the past 6 years alone, African American students have been threatened with expulsion, banned from competing in sports, and even banned from attending prom because of their dreadlocks, braids or afros.
In a world where women already face discrimination based on how they look, it seems ridiculous that anyone should be punished for having kinky, textured hair.
Yet many African American women have had to conform to European hair standards in the workplace, where straight hair is perceived as tidy and professional while natural hair is perceived as distracting or unkempt.
Luckily, that’s changing.
The natural hair movement is encouraging women to give up chemical straighteners and embrace their natural texture, boosting the popularity of protective hair styles like locs, braids, and bantu knots.
But the workplace has been slow to catch up.
That’s why Dove joined with the National Urban League, Color Of Change, and Western Center on Law and Poverty to form the CROWN Coalition to end hair discrimination.
Dove surveyed 2000 women and discovered that black women are 1.5 times more likely than white women to be sent home from work because of their hair.
They’re also 80% more likely to state that they have to change their natural hair to fit in at the office.
Thanks in part to the CROWN Coalition’s efforts, in July California became the first state to ban racial discrimination based on hairstyle.
California senator Holly Mitchell introduced the bill with a direct challenge to the ruling that hairstyle is a personal choice, not protected by law.
“The way the hair grows out of my head as a black woman is a trait of race,” she said.
The CROWN (Create a Respectful and Open Workplace for Natural Hair) Act was also signed into law in New York state.
However, 48 states remain.
You can join the movement to end hair discrimination across the United States by signing the petition here.