A&F: Classic [i.e. non-disabled] American Style

First in a series of posts on ‘norms-of-appearance related grievances’:

The Guardian reports on this ongoing tribunal, in which a student with a prosthetic arm is suing Abercrombie & Fitch (the clothes retailers) for disability discrimination.

the firm agreed she could wear a white cardigan to cover the link between her prosthesis and her upper arm. But shortly afterwards, she was told she could not work on the shop floor unless she took off the cardigan as she was breaking the firm’s “look policy”. She told the tribunal that someone in the A&F head office suggested she stay in the stockroom “until the winter uniform arrives”.The “look policy” stipulates that all employees “represent Abercrombie & Fitch with natural, classic American style consistent with the company’s brand” and “look great while exhibiting individuality”. Workers must wear a “clean, natural, classic hairstyle” and have nails which extend “no more than a quarter inch beyond the tip of the finger”.

Dean said today in her evidence: “A female A&F manager used the ‘look policy’ and the wearing of the cardigan as an excuse to hide me away in the stockroom.

We’ve worried before about look policies – that they could be used to discriminate against people with disabilities is a further deeply probelmatic aspect of them.

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