The aspiring hairdresser with the headscarf

Bushra Noah, a Muslim woman in Britain, wants to be a hairdresser, but can’t find a job because she wears aNoah
headscarf for religious reasons. Hair salons, it seems, expect their hairdressers to display their hair. Noah isn’t happy about that and is suing a London hair salon for religious discrimination.

Sarah Desrosiers, whose Wedge salon specialises in "urban funky"
cuts, says she turned down applicant Bushra Noah because she was
"selling image" and needed her staff to display their hairstyles to the
public. [Link]

You can also sell image with a headscarf, can’t you? I’m sure Noah would have been willing to wear an "urban funky" headscarf. Or at least an "urban funny" one.

Ms Noah, 19, is claiming religious discrimination and
suing Ms Desrosiers for more than £15,000 for injury to her feelings,
as well as an unspecified sum for lost earnings.

Ms Desrosiers,
32, who set up her business in King’s Cross 18 months ago, has already
spent more than £1,000 fighting the case and says that if she loses she
will be forced to close.

She denies any discrimination and says she rejected Ms Noah because she was unwilling to show her hair at work.

"I sell image – it’s very important – and I would expect a hair
stylist to display her hair because I need people to be drawn in off
the street," said Ms Desrosiers. "It’s the nature and style of my salon
that brings people in and someone having their hair covered conflicts
with that. If someone came in wearing a baseball hat or a cowboy hat
I’d tell them to take it off while they’re working. To me, it’s
absolutely basic that people should be able to see the stylist’s hair." [Link]

A headscarf is different from a baseball cap, though, even if some men follow baseball religiously. Maybe it’s because I’m a man, but I wouldn’t care if my hairdresser didn’t display her hair or if she was bald. I’d be concerned, however, if she had a bad hairdo, almost as concerned as I’d be if my dentist looked like this.

If you enjoyed this piece, you'll love Melvin's novel Bala Takes the Plunge, available in North America through and You can also find it at major bookstores in India and Sri Lanka or online at FlipKart, IndiaPlaza, FriendsofBooks or other sites. A number of readers have written reviews of the novel. An excerpt of the novel can be read here.


  1. In a profession geared around improving appearance, it’s reasonable to hire with looks as a criteria.
    This would kind of be like hiring a militant vegan to be a butcher.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: