Despite more and more African-descended people embracing their natural hair, certain hairstyles are still seen as “unprofessional” by some companies, causing employees to change their hairstyle or risk being reprimanded by their employers.

According to a petition demanding Air France reviews its policies on hair, one flight attendant claims he was forced to hide his dreadlocks under a horrible toupee to please his bosses.

The blog Afro-Europe reports that Aboubakar Traoré, a Frenchman of Ivorian descent, was hired by Air France in 1999. Although he’s been wearing dreadlocks for a while, Traoré was recently called in by management and told that his hair was harming the company’s image and that he’d have to wear a wig or risk losing his job.

Ironically, black female flight attendants are allowed to wear braids and dreadlocks, but not their male counterparts.

Earlier this month demonstrators gathered in Paris to protest Air France’s policy, and a petition was started to get the company to update its rules to reflect the ethnic diversity of its employees.

Although companies have the right to institute policies on employee appearance, allowing workers to style their hair in neat, conservative styles—despite the texture—would not only make them happier, but would signal to customers that the company is progressive and diverse.

(Any French-speaking Clutchettes care to translate?)

Discrimantion _ Air France s’acharne by AncFrance

What do you think? Would you hide your hair under a wig to keep a job?

  • Yb

    #DEAD at that picture of him in that wig. I will leave a proper comment after I regain my composure.

  • CurlySue

    Not for nothing, but long hair on men in general is seen as unprofessional.

  • B. Payne

    I’m sorry but that wig is distracting me from typing an intelligent response.

    Laurence Fishborne circa Ike Turner comes to mind

  • Introverted Leo

    No, I would not hide my hair under a wig to keep a job.

  • Sasha

    Yes I would happen to agree. There is no need for men over the age of 18 to have long hair, it turns my stomach when I see grown men wearing cornrows or those dirty hipsters with their dreadlocks.

  • PinkyToe

    Didn’t Jesus have long hair? Would you fire Jesus? j/k. Had to lighten up the day a touch.

  • Introverted Leo

    Oh goodness! Just last week while on the bus, I saw a guy with both of his ears pierced AND his hair in cornrows.

  • Trish

    When are people going to stop judging based on looks ? So what if he has long hair? As long as he does his job professionally it shouldn’t matter. Same with tattoos and piercings. People tend to automatically assume the capabilities of certain individuals based on what they wear or look like and deem it unprofessional. And the wig btw looks terrible.

  • http://google saniel

    i had to conform to wigs, braids and other hairstyles in order to keep my job. I was hired and then told that i wouldn’t be able to wear my hair like that(small twists) it was stated in policies for professional appearances. i took it til i couldn’t take it any longer and quit the roller coaster of how do i style my hair today. it was so bad my fellow employees didn’t recognize me with my own hair. i got a job that didnt center around what natural hairstyle i was wearing and concentrated on my professional performance.

  • binks

    LMAO at the reference to “what love got to do with it”! But his locs looked neat and pulled back to me, and it is much better than that travesty of a wig. But it goes to show that we still have a long way to come when it comes to our hair and how other view it, particularly the styles we choose to wear. Last semester my professor (a black woman) pulled my over and said I needed to straighten my hair (I wear a curly fro) if I wanted to get a job in the legal world. I say as long as the person’s hair is neat, groomed and not distracting or hindering job performance then back off!

  • chanela

    So you mean to tell me that if you were an employer you would hire somebody with a tattoo on their face that says “sexy bitch” or “hood nigga”?? stuff like that shows a lot about a person. of course they’ll get judged because of their stupidityn. you have to be absolutely dumb to get tattoos on your face, especially inappropriate things.

  • stiger

    “Dirty hipsters with deadlocks” – That’s a sad comment at best. I could understand the need to cover long hair, especially in the food services industry, but on an airplane? Please don’t get me wrong. Certain hairstyles breed the wrong impression–a la, dreadlocks, cornrows, braids, etc. Unfortunately, most of these “negative hairstyles” aren’t coincidentally attributed to people of black ethnicity. It’s a sad double standard. When Bo Derek braided her hair everyone thought it was “cutting edge” and “fashionable.” I think we all need to rethink the core issues here.

  • Sparkle

    That wig….did they choose that for him? Yikes! And how did he fit his locs under that wig?

  • cherish

    This is the heinous thing I’ve ever seen.

  • Dianta

    Sorry, this is the one time when I’m actually making fun of racism…I dont know if I should be mad or laughing…maybe both. All I know is that he looks ridiculous in that bowl cut. Lookin’ like a black member of the beattles. smh.

  • Ms. Information

    That wig is A – trocious… he looks like Mos

  • NY’s Finest

    Lmao!! I thought it was Mos Def at first.

  • Mystic

    Ignorance at its finest. At one point in time, the prevailing thought was that dark skin on a human being was unclean and unhygienic. Was that alright too? Since when is “everybody thinks so” a valid logical reasoning? Free your mind. Long hair on a man is nothing more than…long hair on a man.

  • Chic Noir

    LOL he really does look like Mos Def.

  • Chic Noir

    Ironically, black female flight attendants are allowed to wear braids and dreadlocks, but not their male counterparts.

    Yea, most bussiness I think have something against male employees having long hair. I would not make this out to be a race thing.

  • Rosey

    ICANT with that wig. lol

  • apple

    Lmfao that wig!!! I would have picked a Ginuwine style wig

  • sholla21

    DISCLAIMER: I’m a native French speaker but not a native English speaker so…pardonnez mon anglais, lol. Here’s the translation.

    Male news anchor: He has dreadslocks. An Air France steward is forbidden from boarding planes. According to the company, his hairstyle does not fit the company’s standards. He claims discrimination, but after exhausting all legal recourses, he’s faced with the risk of having to leave his job.

    Female narrator (N): He’s a steward at Air France. He’s 38. Aboubacar Traoré works in the profession he loves since 1998, but for a few years, he’s been in conflict with the company.

    Aboubacar: I’m going to the meeting room, hoping my new appearance will be acceptable. I don’t really understand what they want from me.

    N: Minutes later, the flight from Paris to Djibouti will take off without him.

    Aboubacar: He (the manager who refused to let him board the plane) kind of looked at me up and down, had me turn around so he could look at my hair, and right away he said it didn’t work.

    N: The problem? The hair, or rather the few braids (they called them braids) Aboubacar grew, that no longer fit the company’s standards, which forced him to wear a wig for 4 years.

    Aboubacar: I leave with a knot in my stomach, a wound, every time I wear it.

    N: This wound that has pushed him in his ordeal after 2 years of depression to have his legitimate right recognized. His right to difference.

    Shot of a book entitled: Black Skin, Kinky Hair

    Sociologist: The “domestication”, is to have straight hair, it’s what’s the acceptable etiquette for people who are not – let’s be honest here – the ‘real’ children of the French civilization.

    N: So, Aboubacar sues at the High Authority for the Struggle Against Discrimination and for Equality (the HALDE).
    18 months later, the HALDE response is clear. It recommends Air France try to work things out with the plaintiff and find a solution in keeping with the principles of non discrimination.

    Change in tone with the authority that has just replaced the HALDE. It demands the steward comply with the company, that has just revamped it Dress Code Manual.

    Dead end for Aboubacar. Air France didn’t respond to our request for an explanation but a workers’ representative supports the steward.

    Florent Petit: For an employee to be welcomed at each flight departure and each flight arrival by 3 people, who are well paid and have other things to do, if this isn’t harrassment, I don’t know what is. We’ve had problems far greater in the company that didn’t result in this kind of deployment of manpower.

    N: Recriminiations, harrassment, Aboubacar doesn’t see the end with this wall of incomprehension. He’s called in to a preliminary meeting for disciplinary sanction.

    Hit me up if something’s seems unclear.

  • African Mami

    He looks like Kat Williams taller twin.

  • Rosey

    @African Mami

    LOL! Your comment had be dying

  • haffie

    Oh please this man looks like a big moron. This fool is working for Air France, he has a good job and he’s complaining about his hair. A lot of people will die just to have his job. I hope he quits and joins the employment line maybe he will realize that cutting his hair was not such a big deal after all. From what i see he ‘s not even all that so whats the fuss about. I hate men with long hair, always trying to look feminine. Enough with that sissy thing. Let’s go Air France and don’t change that policy for one bad apple because soon all the other morons will come knocking looking like drag queens.

  •!/clnmike Tonton Michel

    DJ spin it!

    One more time to blow your mind!

    “Mon Dieu! Non daltonien France, il n’est pas possible, mensonges maudits”!

  • Britni Danielle

    Thanks so much for the translation, Sholla21!

    ~britni danielle

  • Dalili

    LMBO @ “Lookin’ like a black member of the beattles.” I think they should allow him to wear his dreads(especially if they allow women braids….hmm, if they’ll soon ban those too..) and insist he wears them in a bun or something akin to it; that wig is just hideous!

  • Dalili

    Edit: **I wonder if they’ll ban those too**

  • Amanda

    Thank you for translating!

  • Miss Fitness

    Unlike Braids, Locks can be linked to religion and maybe that is why he has not just cut them versus wearing the wig on top of them…so for those saying “just cut them” you think if jew would not cut his two curls on the side that this wouldn’t be a huge legal issue??


  • C

    ^ those are really extreme cases. There are just as many, if not more, people who get really nice tattoos versus those that get “stupid” tattoos. In the end, the point is that there’s nothing wrong with tats or piercings, within reason. If you’re going to have your face covered in piercing or tattoos than you obviously are going to go for a specific type of job (likely not as a cashier). lol.

  •!/TheBlackBot TheBlackBot

    I don’t see what is so ironic about their allowing women to have locks. It is generally seen as unprofessional for men to have long hair.

  • mamareese

    Um that is one hellafied wig to keep all that underwraps. Ethier way….both of those hairstyles do nothing for his face.

  • Zane

    Ok reading through, I’m extremely disappointed by a a few posts. “Professional” is a subjective matter and even though there’s a common idea of it, doesn’t make it professional.

    What makes it ok for woman to have long hair, but not men? If it’s you’re religion – not everyone believes in it.

    And if you’re so set on saying “It’s not a man’s thing” then I’ll politely say what’s wrong with men saying “work is not a woman’s thing”.

    If you’re going to continue to judge and put down those who choose to wear the body natural, then I say you’re not worth enough to be called a person =/

    Nothing hurt worse then seeing things like putting braids, cornrows, and any other hair style for long length natural hairstyles down like that.

    -Disappointed in people.

  • BFDuster

    Another appearance of “Eurocentric/White standard = professional”! Bleeeghk. <== sound of barfing.

  • HotMamaShida

    locs are unprofessional? earrings on a man and long hair on men is unprofessional…….? in 1950!! hello and welcome to 2012, the (theoretical) time of tolerance and growth. for most. clearly not for anyone who thinks that a man just having locs is unprofessional. wow, not only is that 1950′s thinking, it’s 1950′s southern, damn near jim crow thinking.

    locs are not unprofessional in any way. thinking locs aren’t clean is juvenile, ignorant, silly, asinine and did i mention ignorant. it’s one of those good ol’ myths that have been utilized by the ignorant for many generations in order to find just one more reason to be hostile and intolerant toward people of color. it’s xenophobic and xenophobia is always just small-minded foolishness.

    evolve, people. the rest of us will be waiting for you to catch up.

  • bola

    Forcing a black man to wear a Caucasian looking wig is racist.I travel a lot internationally and usually use air france.I will not be using them again till they do something about this. This is the 21st century and this is unacceptable.

  • bola

    I think customers need to start a petition!I am livid reading this.


    This is sad.. BUt I couldn’t resist the urge to laugh at that ratchet wig.. He looks like a black Daniel Craig..

  • sholla21

    @Britni Danielle @Amanda
    My pleasure :)

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