Purple Hair Don't Care


If your employer tells you that you need to dye your hair for your job, before or after officially being hired, we all know that that is discrimination.

And any employer worth working for would know, (should know), that they are risking getting themselves and the business in a lot of trouble for beseeching said employee/potential employee for doing so.

Except employers get around this by saying that it is 'uniform' and 'staff policy' - but is this not still too, discrimination?

I recall an incident when I was 12 years old. My best friends mother was a hairdresser at the time, and I used to love it when she would do my friends and mines hair for us. One time she had some hair extensions in the house in various colours and asked us if we would like a few put into our hair - of course I instantly agreed! Unfortunately I do not have a picture to show you (selfies were not such a thing back then!), but I had two blue and two aqua blue streaks glued in, and they looked Awesome! It quickly started a craze until almost all girls in the school year had at least one unnatural hair colour streak in their hair. This then lead to our headmistress calling out the subject in an assembly stating that the school had had 'enough' and that the streaks were 'not uniform' and that we all must remove them or receive detentions or risk explosion. I could not believe it. I knew even then at such an age that to treat people like that was not right - it was discrimination, archaic and prejudice to act as if a couple of blue/purple/green/whatever colour streaks, had an interference with ones education. My anger grew as I watched one by one as each girl had the wax in hair pieces taken out as they were pressured by the authorities into conformity. Having an equalising school uniform I can understand - but suppressing a person for having a different hair colour to everyone else's, I can not.

Obviously I refused and kept the streaks in until they fell out naturally on their own accord, (in fact their handling of us made me what to dye my hair all colours of the rainbow!) However although my protest, if you will, had gone ahead relatively undisturbed, with a few conversations with some teachers were I stood my ground and no such 'or else' punishments that we were originally threatened occurred, the schools discriminatory behaviour towards what its students looked like continued. I recall another incident, at around 13 years old, where a friend of mine had had a hair cut and in the process, had a basic, few lines and curls pattern shaved in on one side of his head. He was then excluded until the hair grew back enough to disguise the pattern. Do I really even need to pint out how ridiculous this was!? The boy was forced to miss school - he was told that having a similar hair cut to everybody else was more important than him getting an education. Remind me why we actually go to school again then, if not for that!?

Unfortunately this unwelcome behaviour can sometimes carry through into later life onto adult hood. If my high schools attempted reasoning for making unnatural hair colours illegal on school grounds was because some employers in the future do not like it either, then they are just as archaic as that employer. And in fact, worse than them on the animosity front, as I believe that schools should encourage individuality and for students to have a voice of their own, not silence it in favour of keeping quiet and out of the spot light like a good little sheep. They should be teaching children that discrimination is wrong, and that they should use their voice to stand up to it. Not be an example of it.

But this blog post is not about my old school or the problems in the schooling system in general, (dang it, I would need the space of a book to write about that!) It is about the issue of discrimination for daring to be different, which is apparent in all sectors of life.

Can't get a job without experience, can't get experience without a job. Yeah, we all know that one. But for some, who dare to walk around with something as audacious as locks which are dip dyed green, this problem may be more apparent.

I am fortunate enough where my employer likes my purple hair. However I have friends who have been at the hands of discrimination due their appearance, with one being forced to cut of his dread locks for a job in a an office and another being told not to return to her role in the nursery until her pink wash-in-wash-out hair dye had washed out completely without a trace. But how are employers getting away with this you might ask?

Can't get a job without experience, can't get experience without a job. Need a job. Need to pay rent. bills, want money for going out on Friday, need to eat, saving for this, that, etc.... I am replaceable....

Employees know that a good job can be hard to come by, so they can afford to be picky. But does that stretch to them having the right to be picky on your appearance over your qualifications and experience, even if only as a contributing factor...? I think not.

And as long as this attitude continues, we as a race can not move forward from discrimination - not when we are being pulled back by the people who still believe that your appearance plays any factor into your ability to do the job. If I needed stitches, I would feel much more at ease with the green haired, face tattooed, tongue and nose pierced nurse who had done this more times than she could count, than the clean cut, plain faced, normal hair coloured nurse of whom which I was her second, ever, patient.

I conducted some further research on-line of girls querying about whether they would still be as employable with unnatural hair colours, (the fact that these forums even exist speaks volumes), and one girl asking was met with this:

Try jobs where you don't have to be face to face with customers, or where it's a more alternative atmosphere.

Now the replier meant well, but this type of reaction is still not what is needed if we wish to move forward as a society. We can only end prejudice and discrimination if we condemn it in all forms - not by avoiding it, but by confronting it and saying No!

I called the Hilton Hotel in Cardiff and asked their HR department if they have ever, or would ever consider hiring a front of staff member, such as a waitress with an unnatural hair colour such as pink, blue or purple. Instantly the woman on the phone said no, claiming that it was "staff policy" not to. When I queried this she instantly became suspicious and wanted to know who I was with and why I wanted to know so badly and said "We wouldn't give out any information to somebody who's just ringing up. Hotel policy." Hmmm.

A job that is stereotyped to be for the serious and uptight is that of a solicitor, (I have friends who are solicitors, trust me, uptight is not their thing!) So I decided to investigate there as well. I rang David Bigmore & Co from Wrexham asking the same question in regards to being a solicitor and was happy when the more friendly lady on the phone announced that they would not discriminate against such a thing. However she also added that there was only two people working in that office and I do, thankfully, find that smaller companies view you as more of a person than a number anyway so your are automatically better looked after.

I then rang a bigger firm in Cardiff, Dolmans Solicitors, where after speaking to a highly suspicious woman who would not entirely except that I was asking as an individual, not from a survey, I was passed on to a more friendly Andrew. Andrew, slightly surprised at my question, assured me that at Dolmans they prefer the persons qualifications and experience. I then pushed to add that often the role of a solicitor can be known to view having unnatural hair colours as 'unprofessional' to which he assuredly replied that they "more view the person as a whole rather than any one characteristic of them." I thanked him for his time, feeling reassured about society.

I was also glad when the University Health Board of the NHS Wales got back to me with sending me a copy of their uniform manual, each requirement such as long hair tied back and appropriate footwear with with understandable explanations and with nothing about unnatural hair colours being prohibited. I replied by stating that I was glad that there was no mention of purple hair being restricted, to which the reply which I received was to remember that professional standards must still be kept at all times. I replied asking straight out whether or not purple hair would be deemed as unprofessional - I am yet to receive a reply. That was almost two weeks ago.

 However, the suspicious attitudes and reluctance to answer in some of the phone calls that I made leads me to question, what they were hiding? Its a simple question about their 'uniform', so why are some companies so afraid to answer it? Worried that they already know that their answer would be morally wrong and prudent, yet are afraid to say it out loud perhaps...?


It is already hard enough to get a good job that you want and make a living out of what you want to do as it is, the last thing that we need to do is to make it even harder for our brothers and sisters out there. Let us group together and help stop this act of prejudice and discrimination. For some, this may not be apparent to them, it may not effect them, so they do not notice, but believe me when I tell you this now - prejudice and discrimination in any form, to anybody, effects everybody else. It effects society. It effects you.

Employment discrimination is not limited to unnatural hair colours - this included tattoos, piercings, age, gender, race, so much more. I have many friends who have been told to take out piercings and cover tattoos at work because it "doesn't look nice" or "Isn't smart". I myself was told that I could not be a reserve in the Royal Navy because of a tattoo that I have that would be visible and is "not uniform in the passing out parade". I would like to note here that the Navy soldier who was interviewing me was more than apologetic and was the first to say that it was a obsolete rule, that he has had to turn down so many great people for it, that it wouldn't effect my ability as a solider and that he has tried to have the rules on it changed many times. Here is a man whose life has been about order, discipline, following rules, keeping in line - and even he could easily recognise what was too much controlling.

Then why can't the rest of us?

Whoever wrote this elusive be-all-and-end-all exclusivity on what 'looks smart' and what doesn't, I swear, I will find you. And I will ambush you. I will cover you in glue, throw as much feathers, colours and glitter all over you as can fit, and dance around you with everyone else who has ever been denied a job role or told off at work or in school because of your judgemental, small minded views, chanting "Who looks 'smart' now? Biyotch! One of us! One of us!" - Oh wait I can't do that that. Because you are not a person. You are society. Well, its time for a new view on society, and Dear Previous Society - we are taking your archaic, unnatural hair colour hating, tattoo, piercings genders and everything else discriminating, feathered and glittered covered ass down.

Yours Sincerely,

The New, (and looking better than you in the feather and glitter get up), Society.

#BeTheChange #FightPrejudice #SayNoToDiscrimination

Snaps to Andrew J Clifton on the photography, find his Awesome work Here! :)

You Might Also Like