Sid Ouared, a British Airways customer service agent, says he was fired two weeks after he started his hair in a bun or a man bun. The 26-year-old Londoner has accused the company of sexism after he was dismissed for breaching the airline’s uniform policy.
Ouared claims one of his bosses said he “looked like a girl” and says he felt ”bullied” at the airline, which he feels is still “stuck in the 1970s.”
“They basically said: ‘Cut it, put it in a turban like a Sikh, or turn it into dreadlocks like a Rastafarian.’ I am not any of those things and I can’t believe that they would make me wear my hair like something I am not,” he said. “Thousands of women who work for BA and who worked alongside me had their hair exactly like mine. Yet I’m discriminated against for it.”
"All I was told about was tattoos and piercings, and obviously there’s no way I could have grown my hair during the space of three months," he added. “I felt like an outcast and I did feel violated as well. I just wanted to get on with my role that I was very much enjoying at BA, however, I do feel like I was discriminated [against] just because my hair is ‘like female hair’ but as a male, I’m not allowed to have my hair like this.”
British Airways, when reached for comment, told The Independent: “We don’t comment on employment matters relating to individuals.” The company only allows ponytails for men to hold back their dreadlocks, and stubble or “orange skin tones” are not permitted.
The company also asks both men and women to conceal “obvious blemishes and skin conditions” with concealer and to cover tattoos. Female staff members are expected to wear lipstick and blush “as a minimum” and asked to “use a face powder to set your makeup for the day” and “complete the eyes with eyeliner and mascara.”
Female crew members are expected to wear heels, and buzz cut hairstyles and “excessively teased, back-combed styles” are not allowed. Also, hair color must “complement” employees’ natural hair color and streaks or frosted tips are “not acceptable.”
The man bun was popularized by Asian warriors, though in Roman times, topknots were considered a style for the eastern European and Scandinavian barbarians. In modern times, the style has been worn recently by David Beckham, Jared Leto, Chris Hemsworth, Leonardo DiCaprio and Orlando Bloom.