Cree Ballah’s hairstyle
Cree Ballah

When it comes to certain hairstyles, like braids, they always seem to be fashionable when people like Kim Kardashian wear them, but when a black person does, they're oftentimes referred to as being "unprofessional." And it seems as though one employee of the fashion retailer Zara has encountered that issue recently.

Cree Ballah, a Zara employee in its East End Toronto store, says she was asked to change her hair after her manager complained about her box braids.


"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 told the CBC.

The managers asked Ballah to take her hair out of the bun and even went so far as to fix Ballah's hair in front of everyone at the store.

"It was very humiliating … it was unprofessional," she said.

"My hair type is also 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," Ballah told the station. "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."


A representative for Zara said that the company does not discriminate and that it "engaged directly with the employee on this matter and respect[s] the privacy of those discussions."

Ballah has filed an official discrimination complaint with Zara's human resources department and says she'll likely file one with the Ontario Human Rights Commission.

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