Pupils are no longer required to have a uniformly short haircut after Education Minister Nataphol Teepsuwan ordered all schools to abolish limits on the length of pupils’ hair in 2020. (Picture : Patipat Janthong)
An advert for a forced haircut sparked a debate about rights abuses and brought back bad memories for many when they were students in Thai schools.
Toiletries maker Dove launched the #LetHerGrow campaign on Tuesday to send the message that a forced haircut “takes away more than a girl’s hair.”
The print and video ads show a girl with a very short haircut and the rest of the hair is seen on the floor next to her school shoes.
“It causes him to lose confidence and self-esteem and diminishes his desire to go to school,” the copy read.
In the two-minute video, women from different generations express their confidence by defining their own hairstyle with complete freedom.
The US-based company said on its website that the campaign was created to promote the freedom of Thai women who could express themselves through hair styling.
The announcement was chosen by Sansiri’s Managing Director, Srettha Thavisin, who praised the company for addressing this social issue.
“What they cut is more than hair from the younger generation,” Mr. Srettha wrote on his Twitter account. “Their confidence, self-esteem and courage to express opinions were also reduced.”
As of Tuesday night, her post had seen more than 28,000 retweets and garnered support from many Twitter users. They wrote that the announcement reminded them of their school days when they encountered the same situation.
A Twitter user wrote that the haircut imposed on the students amounted to a violation of their rights.
Student confidence was being eroded and teachers were doing poor homework, another user wrote.
A former student wrote that she intentionally failed an entrance exam because she didn’t want to get into a public high school her mother wanted her to attend. She wanted to continue her education at a private school that allowed longer hair. “I said this to my mom when I finished high school,” she wrote.
However, not everyone supported this campaign as one wrote, “Dove has a vested interest” in this ad.
Although the Ministry of Education lifted the regulations governing student hairstyles for boys and girls in 2020, teachers still have the option of interpreting them in their favor.
According to the ministerial regulations in force, the hairstyles of the students must be appropriate according to the judgment of the school principals.
The regulations were published in the Royal Gazette on May 1, 2020 and signed by then Education Minister Natapol Teepsuwan.
The school principal’s interpretation room reflected in Khanu Witthaya School.
In November last year, Khanu Woralaksaburi district school in Kamphaeng Phet province did not allow a group of students to enter their classrooms because they did not comply with the requirement of school regarding short hair.
Kriangsak Kongthai, the school principal at the time, said the short hairstyle was agreed upon by the school, parents and the student union, according to a Matichon online‘ report published on November 23 last year.
Mr Kriangsak said he ordered students who broke the rules not to enter the buildings and asked their parents to bring them back to have their hair cut.
Uniformly short hairstyles had been a nightmare for students – both boys and girls – before the new rule was enforced.
In 2018, a student from Nakhon Pathom province wrote in Dek-D, a website promoting education and learning, that he had lost his self-confidence and no longer wanted to go to school because teachers demanded an extremely short haircut.
The high school boy said his head was eventually shaved by a teacher who told him he had repeatedly broken school rules.
“I lost my confidence in not wanting to go out anymore and I didn’t want to go to school anymore,” he wrote.