Disney lifts rule on shaving
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  • Disney lifts rule on shaving

  • Disney lifts rule on shaving

    The Walt Disney corporation has traditionally banned facial hair - until now. Disney originally imposed its ban in 1957, despite the fact that its founder, Walt Disney, always wore a mustache. The ban was introduced by Disney as part of a campaign to differentiate his theme park from sleazy, carnival-like competitors that sprang up in America in the post-war years. All male workers at Disney theme parks in the USA and France have had to abide by the company's fresh-faced, short-haired code.

    Now, after 43 years, Disney has decided to allow employees at its theme parks to grow mustaches. The company's decision has been forced by a shortage of suitable workers in a tight US labor market. However, beards will still be banned.

    The partial lifting of the ban was welcomed by Disney employees, who have been exasperated by what they regard as double standards in enforcement of the rules. Apart from Disney himself having a mustache, the clean-shaven regulation was not applied to those on the creative side of the company or to senior executives.

    The Disney theme parks have been struggling to fill job vacancies and the labor pool in Florida is particularly dependent on the Latin-American community, which has a well known fondness for beards and mustaches. The ban on facial hair has claimed some awkward scalps. In 1990 the first officer and several other mustachioed crew members aboard the retired liner Queen Mary, which was owned by Disney, were sacked for refusing to shave. Soon afterwards there was dismay among crew members and embarrassment among officials when a Harrods boutique was opened on the ship by the bearded British Royal family member Prince Michael of Kent.

    This rule has been the focus of considerable anger and frustration from ethnic and religious communities. For Sikhs, it is unacceptable to cut any hair. Policies that require clean shaving or short hair cuts effectively ban Sikh's from such a job. Shaving requirements can also sometimes affect members of the African-Amercian community. African-Americans are susceptible to pseudofolliculitis barbae. This is a condition where close shaving of the scalp or beard leads to numerous ingrowing hairs leading to extensive inflammation and skin scarring. The only practical remedy is not to shave or have close cropped hair. Work policies requiring a clean shaven appearance can prohibit some job candidates if they have pseudofolliculitis barbae.

    Similar rules about shaving apply in many other organizations. However, some show flexibility to those with religious or medical reasons for not shaving. For example, the British army has a policy of clean shaving and short hair cuts, but since the formation of Indian Sikh battalions during the second world war, an exception has been made for religious reasons.

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