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The Contemplations, Rants & Reminiscences of DavidB327

Something Sensational To Read On The Train

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Oddity What Oddity?
Body Painting1
 The case of Stacey Fearnall, the Canadian waitress who lost her job after she turned up for work with a shaved head, has been the subject of much debate recently.  The fact that she shaved her head to help raise money for a charity has fuelled much of the discussing, and in a sense this is unfortunate.  It’s good that the unfair dismissal has been given such prominence, but there the focus on charity fundraising detracts from the fundamental issue of personal freedom.  This is a subject close to my heart, so it’s not surprising that I felt pretty annoyed after reading this article:




Clearly anyone working in a customer facing position would need to accept that there would in all likelihood be some kind of dress code.  In such jobs, it’s fair enough to expect employees to be clean and tidy, and not to wear certain types of clothing.  However to dismiss someone because of a hairstyle, even though from the neck down their appearance would be judged to be acceptable le, is nonsensical.


There is plenty of nonsense, and indeed prejudice, from Andria Ryan, who apparently is of the opinion that “a female waitress with a shaved head certainly stands out -- and not in a positive way”, citing ‘community standards’ as the justification for this.  She goes on to say that "A man with a shaved head is not an oddity, but a purposely bald woman is."


This is garbage, and of Neapolitan proportions!  This is a HAIRSTYLE we are talking about.  How could ‘community standards’ possibly be applied to a hairstyle with any level of objectivity, given the wide range of individual differences, especially when one considers cultural diversity?  Of course it can’t, and this is subjective.  Furthermore, even if it would be possible to apply some level of objectivity to the rules laid down by ‘community standards’, they would not be static.


It’s not so long ago that it was unusual for a man to have a shaved head, and I can remember plenty of examples of prejudice in the workplace.  Not long after I started working for my current company (the early 1990s) I was told separately by 2 senior managers in my department that my career progression would be constrained because of my appearance (they were accurate predictions).  A few years later (1999 to be precise) in my annual appraisal there was a comment to the effect that “David should be aware that his appearance is upsetting to the uninitiated”.  Fortunately for me, after a few difficult years (which I’ve documented before) things are better for me work wise.


So would Andria Ryan argue that 20 years ago it would have been acceptable for a man who shaved his head to be dismissed but not now?  Or that it was acceptable for Stacey Fearnall  to have been dismissed this year, but in say 10 years it would not be acceptable (on the basis that by then women with shaved heads would no longer be an oddity)?  I dare say she probably would.

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I've seen links to this article but have so far not had the wherewithal to read it because quotes like the one you excerpted would, I fear, just bum me out. Obviously we're in the minority, but it really does seem a stupid thing to get fired over. I'm not shaved down to scalp at the moment, but thankfully my job has no problem with me wavering between 1/4" and 1/2" in my haircuts, and I in fact get a number of compliments from customers so there, Canada.

I work in a pretty corporate environment as a Receptionist and I have gone down as far as 1/4''...I daren't go further (yet) :-)

Funny, I got compliments from some visiting executives, but not from any of my co-workers. Good thing I am not trying so hard to fit in, otherwise, it would hurt.

And yes, it really is a stupid thing to get fired for. I think it is a symptom of a larger problem that more men and women are speaking about with increasing boldness.

I would like to think that the trend is towards a more tolerant attitude, but sometimes I wonder if it's a case of 1 step forwards, and 1 step backwards.

In the punk days I wore makeup every single day - I would say for about 3 years. Back then it was my shaved head that generated more coments. I haven't used makeup for a while, but I would hazard a guess that if I turnend up to a meeting in thick black eyeliner and lippy that someone would have a quiet word with me.

I was aghast when I read this part:

“David should be aware that his appearance is upsetting to the uninitiated”

Unbelievable. Upsetting to the UNINITIATED? Dear GODS!!!

I am interested in how you responded to that!

Well then....too bad. Let us initiate THEM, then!

I challenged it! My line manager at the time was a complete idiot, and a totally incompetent project manager that was eventually persuaded to seek alternative employment. But I digress. The above comment was the worst out of a large number of comments I found offensive.

In that year I went into my appraisal meeting armed with my notes and annotations to the appraisal document. I gave him a really hard time. To do him credit he did actually listen, but I don’t believe that he was expecting my response to be so head on. The appraisal lasted for 4 hours, which is far in excess of any other I’ve ever had. He was supposed to update the appraisal document afterwards to take on board y comments, but he never did. I guess he was more interested in updating his CV.

That was bad enough, but unfortunately for me far, far worse was to come the next year. I don’t want to go into that now, but you can read about that in my early entries.

Thank you for sharing this with me. I will definitely read the early entries.

Belated applause for responding to the lunacy at your workplace with such forthrightness.

Moving Forwards / Looking Backwards

Trying to make this visible from FB, fingers crossed.

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