Kara Garland, who works at the Powell’s Books outlet at Portland International Airport, doesn’t think her appearance is extreme. Not by Portland standards, anyway. She used Manic Panic to dye her hair a shocking shade of pink about two months ago, but it faded quickly so her fashionable bob is now somewhere between a soft, pastel pink and a champagne-colored hue.
The Port of Portland—which runs the airport and leases retail space to Powell’s—apparently thinks Garland’s pink tresses are beyond the pale, however. In a deal reached with Powell’s, Garland had to start wearing a hat to work Feb. 27 to cover her hair, which had fallen within the pink spectrum for several weeks before anyone at the port made a fuss.
The Rogue Desk thinks the port’s aversion to pink is unproductive and, well, just plain silly. Beyond that, the port’s own guidelines are unclear as to what store employees at PDX concessions can and cannot do with their hair. “All employees should be clean and neat in appearance,” state the guidelines for the airport.
The prohibition of pink hair doesn’t exist at any other Powell’s outlet, according to the bookstore’s human resources manager.
And Garland doesn’t think it should apply at the airport outlet either. That’s why she resisted the initial call on Feb. 20 to change her hair completely. And that’s why she’s also unhappy about the compromise of wearing a hat. She’s doing that only until she can win back the right to have pink hair—or pink beards, for that matter—for all PDX employees. Steve Johnson, a Port spokesman, says the guidelines for professional appearance are designed to make PDX a “comfortable experience for all airport travelers.”
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