Monday, August 13, 2012

Disney Cast Members Costumes


Disney Cast Members Costumes
Imane Boudlal, a former Disneyland employee who is a Muslim, is expected to announce a federal lawsuit against the entertainment giant, saying she was harassed and unfairly removed from her hostess job after refusing to remove her head scarf at work.

This is my opinion on a news article I saw today. I have no problem with people of faith worshiping as they see fit and I agree that businesses should make accommodations as they can to respect people’s faith. Still I believe there is a limit to the accommodations they should be required to make.

As you walk around Disney, no matter where you are you are walking through a “stage production”. From the set (buildings/rides) to the set décor everything is designed to pull you into the feel of “show”. If you are walking down Main Street you expect to see things from the turn of last century. Even the costumes the Cast Members wear fit into the feel. For this reason the guest areas of the resorts are called “On Stage”. The hotels and restaurants of the Disney resorts also are “On Stage”

Just like an actor in a play the Cast Members wear costumes. They are not uniforms or work clothes they are costumes that make them fit into the play that is the Disney Resort experience. An actor in a play would not tell the director or costumer, “I must wear a symbol of my faith and you must make accommodations.” Now if the symbol is small and can be kept under the costume then fine, if it is visible and not in the character the actor is playing they cannot wear it. The actor has the choice to then reject the part or not wear the symbol of their faith.

Disney has a strict dress code for Cast Members, especially those on that work “on stage”. No necklaces in view, especially if they have symbols of faith, such as a Cross or Star of David. Watches must fit into the rules as well. Plain or Disney only with no other design.

Imane Boudlal had been working at Disney’s Grand Californian Hotel restaurant, Storytellers hotel without wearing a hijab for some time before she came to the conclusion that she should be allowed to wear it. Disney management told her they would be glad to find a job off stage where she could wear her hijab with no problems or she could put a hat on top of it. I believe the hat makes her look like she has her faith and fits into the time period/theme of the Storytellers.

Imane Boudlal feels that Disney is being unfair to her and her Muslim faith. She feels they do not want her to “look Muslim”. Well I will agree. Disney does not want her to look Muslim, Christian, Sikh or Jewish. Disney wants all Cast Members to look the part they are hired to play. Imane Boudlal was hired to play a hostess at an early California Western themed restaurant. Her hijab takes away from the feel and as a guest I would feel it takes away from the experience. Under the hat it fits and does not distract.

If Christians cannot wear a Cross or Rosary and Orthodox Jews cannot wear their Yeshivish clothing or even a Start of David visible then why should Disney be forced to allow a Muslim to wear their hijab? Once again this is Political Correctness going too far. It is also unfair to the people of other faiths that would love to wear symbols of their faith but out of respect for the rules and understanding that working at Disney is working on stage they do not.

What about the guests? I know if I’m watching a play about the early American West I don’t wish to see someone in modern clothing. It is not in character. This is the main reason for the no religious symbols on Cast Members.

Disney has guests of many faiths, some of them maybe offended by seeing a symbol of a differing faith on a Cast Member. This is another of the reasons for the rule of no religious symbols on Cast Members. People go to the parks/resorts to get away from things, including religious pressure.

Imane was offered a compromise. She was given the choice to wear a hat over her hijab or work backstage. I feel the offering to allow her to wear the hat was going way beyond what Disney would have done for someone of another faith. She chose to not accept the compromise and that is her choice. She can go work at a regular restaurant that would allow her to wear her hijab without restriction. I’m sure if her work ethic was good and her dedication to her job matched her dedication to her faith she would have no problem finding a good job. In fact I’m sure she could find a job that pays more than Disney does.

Picture from LATimes.com

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