Boss Tells Worker Her Slick Back Bun & Amazon Clothes Make Her Not ‘Polished’ Enough To Work There — Despite Exceeding All Her Goals

She was outperforming her colleagues, but it wasn't enough.

woman standing outside apartment building with hair in a bun Ekateryna Zubal / Shutterstock

Everyone faces difficult situations at work from time to time. However, most would say they have not been outright humiliated and degraded for their appearance. 

For one woman, that’s exactly what happened.

A worker was told that she didn’t have the right look for working at her company.

TikTok creator Catherine A. Pullan recently shared a video showing viewers “the hairstyle that got me called into my boss’ office.”


The video showed Pullan creating a simple yet sophisticated slicked-back bun. It seemed, by all accounts, perfectly appropriate for an office setting.

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Commenters asked for a story time, and Pullan acquiesced.

“It all started with my one-year review,” she said. “I was given a bunch of paperwork to do before I met with the boss and the director.”

“At this point, I was at the top, top of my game. It was a sales position, and I was outselling everyone by miles,” she said.

“They were like, ‘What is your goal for yourself?’” she continued. “I was just honest and I was like, ‘I couldn’t really think of anything for this one. I really love, like, the way everything’s going right now. I’m really proud of myself for the way I’ve stepped into this position and the numbers I’m producing.’’


“I distinctly remember this moment because it was so humiliating,” Pullan lamented. “They just go, ‘Yeah, this is going to be a hard pill to swallow. Don’t take it the wrong way.’”

“Basically, they were like, ‘Despite the numbers you produced, you do not have the look to work here.’ They told me I wasn’t poised or polished enough to work there,” she recounted.

@catherineapullan Replying to @Kaleigh Austin ♬ original sound - CAT

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After this, Pullan’s supervisors went into more detail. “One of the examples they gave was the fact that I wore clothes from Amazon,” she said. “And, they made a comment saying that they wished that I could afford the clothes sold at the store, but they knew that I couldn’t.”

That was when they got to her hair. “I was … not the only one to wear my hair in a slicked-back bun, but I was the only one that they spoke to,” she explained. “They told me I could not wear my hair to work like that because it looked wet and greasy.”

“Finally, to appease them, I asked what I could do to make this goal,” Pullan admitted. “And their answer was, ‘Well, we’re not even sure you look in the mirror when you get dressed every morning.’ At this point, I had broken down. I was crying because there was a point in my life that I was not looking in the mirror when I was getting ready because I had a really bad [eating disorder], and I was really skinny, and I didn’t want to look at myself.”

When commenters tried to convince Pullan to leave the company, she clarified, “This is all far in the past; just want to regain my confidence at this point.”

@catherineapullan Replying to @G I S E L L E 🎶 G R A Y S O N the short version of the story but I filmed the back story #slickbackbun ♬ original sound - CAT

It is possible to be fired for what you wear to work.

Pullan never stated whether she was fired or chose to leave the company on her own. However, the reality is that you can get fired for what you wear to work.

“You can be fired for a dress code violation as long as you were not fired for something that discriminated against you for your religion, gender, or another reason,” according to the Halt Law Directory.

Dress codes are a gray area where you can be fired for things that seem insignificant. Did Pullan's top bun look greasy? Perhaps not for anyone watching the video, but her at-will employment and termination are at her employer’s discretion, whether fair or not.


In Pullan’s situation, however, it seemed like outright snobbery and rudeness. Although she could have tried to take action against the company, as she pointed out, it’s all in the past now. And honestly, who'd want to work for such shallow employers anyway?

If you or someone you know has an eating disorder, please visit the National Eating Disorder Association website for resources and help. 

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Mary-Faith Martinez is a writer for YourTango who covers entertainment, news, and human interest topics.