When a So-Called Dress Code Goes Too Far

by Hollee Actman Becker
Originally Published: 

“I had to listen,” Angela said in a voiceover. “Because she wasn’t just talking about my hair, she was talking about my life.”

Cut to Angela ripping open a box of Crimson Glow hair dye to turn her mousey brown locks into a rich, fiery red. By the end of the next episode, she was hanging with Jordan Catalano. Score!

Sadly, a head of Crimson Glow wouldn’t fly at Emily Reay’s school in the UK, where the 17-year-old student was suspended for—you guessed it—having red hair. Apparently the school finds the color inappropriate, and administrators won’t let her return until she tones it down.

“I was very angry at first, and then burst into tears,” Emily told The Telegraph. “I’ve had the same color for the past three years, and nobody at school has commented on it. Everybody knows me as that ‘young ginger singer.’ For me it is a confidence thing. If I had to dye my hair brown, I would lose this.”

See, Emily isn’t just randomly rocking red hair—she was born with it. She only dyes it to enhance her natural auburn shade. “The laughable thing is my hair was brighter than this on prom night and I won best hairstyle award,” she said. “The school’s policy clearly states no unnatural hair colors like blue or green,” added Emily’s mom. “Is ginger not a natural color?”

A good question. And one that highlights the recent trend of school dress codes taken too far. There was the school last month that sent this girl home for wearing a long (but apparently not long enough) t-shirt with leggings. The school in Louisiana where a student was suspended for sporting dreadlocks. And the high school in Florida that made a new student wear a neon yellow “Dress Code Violation” tee for showing up on her third day with a skirt they deemed too short.

Shaming our kids for the way they look? Is this really what it’s come to? This can’t be healthy for self-esteem, nor does it seem like the best use of resources. With all the debate currently surrounding school testing, you’d think administrators would have much more important things to focus on. Like, I don’t know… education. But then again, what do I know? I let my 12-year-old go ombre.

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