Cree Ballah, 20, went to work on March 23 with ten thick black braids pulled back into two ponytails.
According to City News, Zara management told Cree, “Your hair is too extreme for the Zara store. Please take it down.” Two managers escorted Ballah outside and asked her to “fix” her hair. They informed her that hair color wasn’t the issue, but that the braids were unprofessional. Ballah began to cry. She experimented with different hairstyle options for the management’s approval—a low bun seemed to satisfy their expectations.
Zara management told Ballah, “We’re not trying to offend you, but we’re going for a clean professional look and the hairstyle you have now is not the look for Zara,” reports CBS news.
After two days, the university student and Zara employee decided to remove her $200 braids. Ballah told City News, “My hair type is 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. My hair type is out of my control, and I try to control it to the best of my ability, which wasn’t up to standard for Zara.”
Ballah has filed a complaint with Zara officials and is considering quitting her job. City News also reported that Zara has stated that the company “has no formal policy regarding employees’ hairstyles: we expect all employees to ensure that they present a professional appearance that enables them to serve our valued customers.”
All I know is that this world still has a very long way to go and that if I had Cree Ballah’s face and braids, I’d never stop looking in the mirror. Stand up for yourself, Cree. You’re beautiful and professional and perfect, and you don’t deserve this shit.
Image via Facebook / Cree Quirion-Ballah
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