Taking the stand for beauty

Riam Dien, The young student with a prosthetic arm who took on - and beat - a global fashion giant. Photo: David Poole

Riam Dien, The young student with a prosthetic arm who took on - and beat - a global fashion giant. Photo: David Poole

Some of you may remember that I commented last month on Riam Dien, the young law student, who took Abercrombie & Fitch to an industrial tribunal for unfair dismissal. Although Dien’s case has nothing to do with breast cancer per se, it has everything to do with our image obsessed world, which would rather we kept our scars and so-called  ”imperfections” hidden.

Riam Dean was born with no left forearm. She was working at the Savile Row branch last summer when one of her managers told her to get off the shop floor. She was told that by wearing a cardigan to cover her disability she was violating Abercrombie’s strict ‘Look’ policy.

Last week, a tribunal heard that the firm had both unlawfully harassed Riam and dismissed her without good reason. She was awarded £9,000 in damages.

But the size of the payout, she says, is not the issue. ‘The compensation doesn’t even cover my legal fees but I feel a sense of moral victory,’ she insists.

‘Abercrombie & Fitch needs to realise that people come in different shapes, colours, sizes and disabilities. Ignorance isn’t an excuse.

‘They have a disturbing sub-culture. I hope they realise that beauty lies in diversity rather than perfection. And if they don’t, I’ve still helped a lot of disabled people realise they shouldn’t take what people say to them.’

I salute Dien for her bravery in taking this store to court and opening up a discussion in the media of how we define beauty.In wanting us to hide our scars or “imperfections”, society looses out an opportunity to see what real beauty is.

(You can read and interview with Dien in the Daily Mail)

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