Glamour Magazine has unveiled its September cover story, which is all about the stigmas of Black women’s hair. The package follows six Black women and the workplace discrimination they’ve been subjected to because of how they choose to wear their hair. The story was guest-edited by journalist Ashley Alese Edwards, and the socially distanced cover photographs were shot by Bethany Mollenkof, Demond Meek, Danielle Finney, and G/O Media’s very own Makeda Sandford.
“Women have always—always—had to deal with societal pressures to look a certain way,” Edwards writes. “But if you’re Black in America, the stakes of that pressure are higher: Conformity is, often, a means of survival...the insidious policing of Black hair by workplaces—just like the violent policing of Black people by law enforcement—is very much alive and well.”
The story primarily highlights the importance of the Crown Act, which was first passed in California last year, and bans racial discrimination in the workplace, schools and housing because of a person’s hair. Glamour notes that despite the law’s upward mobility, all but seven states still allow for hair-based discrimination, displaying that we still have a long way to go.
“The Crown Act is not just about Black hair, but also civil rights,” says Farryn Johnson, one of the women featured in the story who experienced hair-based discrimination. Johnson believes she was fired from her waitressing job after receiving several complaints about her hair from her bosses, although her former employer (Hooters) denies these allegations. “It’s about the right for Black people to have freedom and equality. The right to define our beauty through our own eyes and not someone else’s. The right to not allow others to diminish or devalue our heritage.”
Johnson is not the only woman who has experienced hair-based discrimination, nor will she be the last. Glamour also discusses the story of Brittany Noble, a former Mississippi journalist who was fired from her position on the local news in 2018 for reportedly embracing her natural hair. She did this as a way to protect her tresses from severely damaging, heat-heavy styles like the “anchor bob.”
“This is our reality as Black individuals—that we will be judged for every little thing, down to our hair,” Rachel Sakabo, a Congo native who was fired from her job at a luxury hotel in New York City after refusing to “get rid of” her locs. “We have to make laws so that we can be accepted. It’s bittersweet and bullshit at the same time.”
The package also features a PSA titled “I’ve Been Told,” which features Gabrielle Union, Keke Palmer, Marsai Martin and Uzo Aduba reciting real comments Black women have received based on their hair.
“I had someone tell me ‘your dreadlocks are so nice and clean,’ Aduba says, while Palmer adds, “HR told me that my hair looked ‘more professional’ pulled back and in a bun’ than it did ‘out and curly.’”
Glamour punctuates its piece with a call to action: “Hair discrimination is racial discrimination, period. Together, we have the power to end it. To demand the Crown Act gets passed in your state, sign the petition.”
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