Akua Agyemfra was sent home from her job at Toronto’s Jack Astor’s restaurant because she wore her hair in a bun. Yes, you read that correctly.
When told that she had to wear her hair down, Agyemfra said she took her hair out of the bun so her supervisor “could see it doesn’t go down. She understood. She realized I couldn’t wear my hair like that during a shift, that it looked ridiculous. She was really nice about it,” Agyemfra said. “She said a lot of the girls were talking about my hair and that it was in a bun and theirs isn’t. But it kinda sucked.”
Kathryn Long, the national marketing manager for Jack Astor’s, told CBC that waitresses have the option to wear their hair down, or in a stylish up-do, and that the company is now reviewing their policy.
“You should have your hair however you want, that’s my only problem (with what happened),” she said. “I feel your hair should be up in a restaurant. It’s more classy and more professional.”
“I know most black women at restaurants are forced to wear wigs or weaves or extensions, or are forced to straighten their hair everyday. Don’t get me wrong, I think extensions look great. I’ve been wearing them ever since I was a little girl. I love when I get my braids. It’s the protective style I choose and works for me.
But why am I scrutinized when I decide to to take them out? That’s not fair. I’m not going to compromise my roots and edges because my employer wants me to. My scalp has a right to breathe just as much as the woman standing beside me. With that said, I know white women who only wear their hair up because their natural hair is too annoying to deal with. It’s much easier for them to straighten their hair or comply with the “straight hair” rule at restaurants. Unless your hair is permed, rarely does a black women’s hair stay down when it’s straightened. It may stay laid for a few hours but that style is only temporary. I just want equality. If a women, white or black, is more comfortable with their hair up, I don’t understand why it’s such an issue at a restaurant setting,” she said in a statement to the CBC.