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French lawmakers are weighing a invoice banning all forms of hair discrimination

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A buyer waits for a hair remedy, in a hairdressing salon, in Paris, on March 27, 2024. French lawmakers are debating a invoice Thursday that might ban discrimination over the feel, size, shade or type of somebody’s hair.
| Photo Credit: AP

French lawmakers are debating a invoice Thursday that might ban discrimination over the feel, size, shade or type of somebody’s hair. Its authors hope the groundbreaking measure sends a message of help to Black folks and others who’ve confronted hostility within the office and past due to their hair.

“It’s about time,” exclaimed Estelle Vallois, a 43-year-old consultant getting her short, coiled hair cut in a Paris salon, where the hairdressers are trained to handle all types of hair — a rarity in France. “Today, we’re going even further toward taking down these barriers of discrimination.”

The draft law echoes similar legislation in more than 20 U.S. states. The bill was proposed by Olivier Serva, a French lawmaker from the French Caribbean island of Guadeloupe, who says if passed it would make France the first country in the world to recognize discrimination based on hair at a national level.

The bill would amend existing anti-discrimination measures in the labor code and criminal code to explicitly outlaw discrimination against people with curly and coiled hair or other hairstyles perceived as unprofessional, as well as bald people. It does not specifically target race-based discrimination, though that was the primary motivation for the bill.

“People who don’t fit in Euro-centric standards are facing discrimination, stereotypes and bias,” Serva, who’s Black, advised The Associated Press.

The invoice has an opportunity of passing in Thursday’s vote within the National Assembly, the decrease home of parliament, as a result of it’s supported by members of President Emmanuel Macron’s centrist get together Renaissance and left-wing events. But it has confronted opposition from conservative and far-right lawmakers who see it as an effort to import U.S. ideas about race and racial discrimination to France.

In the United States, 24 states have adopted a model of the CROWN Act — which stands for Creating a Respectful and Open World for Natural Hair — banning race-based hair discrimination in employment, housing, faculties and within the army. Federal laws handed within the House in 2022 however Senate Republicans blocked it a month later.

Opponents of the French invoice say France’s authorized framework already presents sufficient safety to folks going through discrimination over their pure Afro hair, braids, cornrows or locs.

Authors of the invoice disagree. One instance they cite is a Black French steward who sued Air France after he was denied entry to a flight due to his braids and was coerced into sporting a wig with straight hair. Aboubakar Traoré gained his case in 2022 after a decade-long judiciary battle. But the court docket dominated that he was not discriminated in opposition to over his hair however as a result of he’s a person, since his feminine counterparts had been allowed to put on braids.

France doesn’t gather official knowledge about race, as a result of it follows a universalist imaginative and prescient that doesn’t differentiate residents by ethnic teams, which makes it tough to measure race-based hair discrimination.

Advocates of the invoice hope it addresses Black French folks’s lengthy wrestle to embrace their pure hair, usually stigmatized as coarse and unruly.

Aude Livoreil-Djampou, a hairdresser and mom of three mixed-race youngsters, mentioned that whereas some folks view the draft regulation as frivolous, it is about one thing deeper.

“It’s not only a hair issue. It will give strength to people to be able to answer, when asked to straighten their hair, they can say: ’No, this is not legal, you cannot expect that from me, it has nothing to do with my professional competence.’”

Djampou-Livoreil’s salon takes care of all types of shoppers, from these with straight hair to these with tight curls. “It’s very moving to have a 40-year-old woman, sometimes in a very high position, finally embracing her natural beauty. And it happens every day,” she mentioned.

Salon buyer Vallois hopes her 5-year-old daughter will dwell sooner or later in a society that doesn’t stigmatize their hair.

“When I was younger, I remember lamenting the lack of salons and even hair products (for frizzy hair) — there was a time when, unfortunately, we had to use products designed for European hair and not adapted to our hair. I’m glad, today, that things are more accessible and there’s change,” she mentioned.

“There’s no reason to be ashamed of who you are, whether it’s your hair or even the fact that you don’t have any!”

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