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Dillard's salon: kinky hair harder to clean

Un-f*cking-believable. Yes, It’s time for yet another hair post, thanks to Blender Fritz passing on this tale of race-based bullsh*t by Dillard’s hair salon in Montgomery, Alabama.


Vaughan Thomas and seven other women are suing the salon, charging racial discrimination because Dillard’s policy is that black customers are charged more than white customers because “ethnic” hair is harder to clean and style.

You have got to be joking. How can a salon make a blanket judgment about hair care pricing by race? Here you go…

A defense brief submitted in Alabama federal court cites numerous supposed characteristics of black hair that make treating it more “time consuming and technically demanding than fulfilling the minimal (or non-existent) conditioning needs” of the typical white customer.

“The rendering of professional hair care is a personal service typically tailored to the specific needs and preferences of the individual,” Dillard’s scientific expert, Mort Westman, said in a deposition. “Numerous factors exist and must be considered during the process of cleansing, conditioning and styling, rendering the resultant treatment somewhat unique.”

OK. What is Mort talking about? Natural kinky hair, pressed hair, chemically straightened hair? Is it all the same to him, because all “ethnic” hair is not the same, any more than hair of a “typical white customer” is not natural, permed, colored, curly or even kinky.

The “science” goes on…

The brief, which is based in large part on Westman’s declaration and a study published in 2003 in the Journal of the American Academy of Dermatology, highlights the “highly brittle, tightly curled” texture of ethnic hair as a factor that prolongs the cleansing portion of the treatment.

The brief also refers to “lack of resiliency” and the frequent use of “intricate coiffures” and extensions as other factors that affect the complexity of drying and styling the hair of black customers.

“These factors would typically indicate that the pricing for the shampooing, conditioning and styling of the African-American client would normally be higher than that of the Caucasian client,” Westman claims.

WTF is this about prolonged cleansing? Gee, it took me about five minutes to lather up and condition my locs just a few minutes ago. It definitely took even less than that when I had a short natural afro. What is this assclown talking about? How can washing my hair take more time that it does to wash straight hair of “typical white customers” that is full of styling products such as gels, sprays, creams, etc.? I don’t use any “product” on my hair after washing and conditioning it — no blow drying, no rollers. Hell, no salon. I don’t need to give anyone money to do my hair.

Perhaps the highly trained professionals at Dillards are prone to ripping “ethnic” hair from “ethnic” scalps because they don’t know what they are doing.

And extensions…let’s see, how many white celebrities can I name off the top of my head that are known to wear them — Britney Spears, the Simpson sisters, Paris Hilton, the list goes on and on, geez, just pick up an US Weekly magazine and they actually tell you who’s wearing fake hair now.

So, if Paris Hilton and Tyra Banks both walked into Dillards, Tyra would get the negro surcharge for the same extensions? Nice.

Lawyers for the plaintiffs presented their case two weeks ago in support of their argument that Dillard’s alleged pricing scheme was part of a systematic effort to charge customers across the country solely on the basis of race.

…”It’s amazing to me that a Fortune 500 company would use this kind of pseudo-science in court to prove that it takes longer to wash African-American hair,” [lead attorney, Patrick] Cooper said.

“The day they can show me that every black woman in the country has the same hair is the day I’ll ask the judge to dismiss the case immediately,” he said.

If the salon wants to make sense of its pricing structure, it should be guided by actual complexity of service. Perms, whether to straighten or curl should cost more than a wash and blow dry. Washing a short hairdo, whether it is straight hair or kinky natural, should take the same amount of time to do, and thus cost the same.


About the only service I can imagine that might cost more and would apply more often to black (or kinky-haired) customers, is a press-and-curl with a hot comb, which takes skill that those race-based Dillard’s stylists are probably not familiar with.

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Pam Spaulding

Pam Spaulding