Ariel Levine: No need to view my locks with dread
Vail, CO, Colorado
At 5 foot 2, in an argyle cardigan and Seven jeans, I’m not exactly a rabble-rouser. The first thing I did when I got to Vail was start a book club.
The second thing I did was begin my job search. Naturally, I started online. And having never been convicted or suspected of breaking a law, it simply did not occur to me to read the “Company Policies” page attached to Skijob1.snow.com Web site.
In retrospect, that is where I erred.
If I had read the “Company Policies” page I would not have arrived, a few weeks later, at Vail Resort’s Ski School to check on my application with no idea of what lay ahead and six neatly printed out copies of my resume.
Let me set the scene: It was snowing; as a northern California transplant I was bundled from head to toe. The young woman behind the counter was helpful as I fumbled with my papers. Then it happened-I took off my hat.
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The Longevity Project is an annual campaign to help educate readers about what it takes to live a long, fulfilling life in our valley. This year Kevin shares his story of hope and celebration of life with his presentation Cracked, Not Broken as we explore the critical and relevant topic of mental health.
“Just so you know, they have a no-dreads policy.”
I stared at her. I had no idea what she was talking about. Then self-consciously reaching a hand up to my dreadlocks I announced, “Oh!” and then, “I forget they are there!”
And I do forget. I have only had what Vail Resorts terms my “fad hairstyle” for about a year. It wasn’t until I went to South Africa that I became brave enough for the locks, and now they are simply part of me, less considered than the watch or earrings I put on to go out.
What followed was a lot of stuttering, some silence and then my leaving the office only to return five minutes later wanting to talk to a manager to check on this supposed “policy.”
The woman I spoke to was nice enough. And the head of HR was pleasant. But by the time I was done spinning through my argument ” that my hair has no bearing on my ability to do the job, that for many individuals dreads are connected to their religion, that, in fact, I was not a drug user ” I was still nowhere closer to destroying what I’ve decided is an outdated, backward, presumptuous and ridiculous policy.
So, tromping back to the Vail transport center, I did what any sensible Jewish girl would: I called my mother. Who, after the requisite show of sympathy, reminded me that some discrimination is legal.
Legal discrimination? Where was I? When I got home that night, my roommate and I laughed remembering what my reaction to the Vail.com Web site had been five months previous. “Everyone on the Web site is blonde and blue-eyed,” I had exclaimed, mortified.
I understand that any organization focused on hospitality is going to have slightly different standards for their staff. But it doesn’t do a whole lot for Vail’s reputation to turn away perfectly qualified applicants because they would like to have a mustache longer that three-quarters of an inch, or would like to wear an earring larger than a dime, or god forbid, have more than two earrings per lobe.
Or, as was my case, would under no circumstances cut off her hair-become bald-for an institution.
I am not a rebel. I am not anti-establishment. But I can’t help but feel that Vail Resort’s policy should be reconsidered.
Ariel Levine is a recent graduate of Wellesley College who has moved to Vail.