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Thoughts Online Magazine
Collected Articles on Culture & Politics
Texas Students Ordered to Cut Hair 
9th-Jan-2008 09:00 am
I'm not kidding.

But the fun begins in the comments. And after reading them, I'm inclined to support the school. The point of school is to help students become productive adults, able to walk into job interviews outside of their own small community: and one of the skills is learning to present yourself well (and yes, that includes cutting your hair and dressing nicely -- to arrive otherwise suggests to the employer that you are someone who has to be worked around rather than worked with -- and who hires them?).

Learning simple things can make job interviews go much more smoothly. Admittedly, there are jobs where how you dress makes almost no difference. Ditch digger, for example. And if you aspire to that job, there are openings, unlike "unsuccessful guitar player for front band".

UPDATE: Comments are getting interesting. Click through.
9th-Jan-2008 06:02 pm (UTC)
it's funny but i used to be one of those people that said dress codes and etc. was bullshit. i had more than one run in with school administrators over my daughters hair/dress. i also pushed the limits at my place of employment more than once.

in the last couple of years, i have changed my position. i now support dress codes and codes of conduct and etc. we have gone too far and supporting a child's right to individualism.
9th-Jan-2008 06:14 pm (UTC)
The problem isn't that they're bullshit: they ARE. But we're trying to get them ready for the workplace, where bosses aren't required to be reasonable, snap judgements end up ruling your life in the office politics, and a little knowledge of how to present yourself better can make it smoother.

In other words, it may not be an "authentic" picture of you you're presenting to your boss and co-workers: and the more you know about them, the more useful this "inauthentic" picture will turn out to be to keep things simple for you.

You really don't want Mildred, in accounting, who seems to be 500 years old, feeling free to set you up with her loser relations because everything about you screams "single." Or Carl, in marketing, to decide that all he has to do is buy a couple of tickets to that band on your T shirt to be entitled to take the T shirt off in his car.

We present "smoother" faces at work so we don't HAVE to spend time killing all the jerks. 1)we'd get put in jail, no matter how much they deserved it, 2)we don't have enough time in the year to kill all of them in the way they deserve. So we adapt. We cope. We "manage" our presentation, and don't wear our heart on our sleeve, where someone will squeeze it.

Edited at 2008-01-09 06:15 pm (UTC)
10th-Jan-2008 03:32 am (UTC)
For my own part, I see a certain amount of reasonableness in one of two basic approaches to the matter. Either...

a) school uniforms, or,
b) open policy with obvious decency by-laws.

I would support either of those two approaches in a school my children attended for the fact that it reflects an understanding that the school's administration and faculty has no business targetting particular individuals, nor demanding that students alter their bodies (including matters related to hair, earrings, or such).

If everyone wears a uniform, or else is left to work within broad boundaries, the school has no obvious, built-in excuse for bullying particular kids based upon the way they dress (an all too common occurance). I don't think that there is any particular need to have government officials acting as guardians of child morality, nor any need to further the precedent. By the time that these kids actually have to deal with job interviews, they'll know better than to show up at the bank-manager's office in white face-paint and a leather corset. If they're not... well, then they probably aren't smart enough to be working a professional job anyways.

Honestly, there is no problem, except with the school officials. Kids will tend to grow-up perfectly well without the State trying to act as the gate-keeper of morality.
10th-Jan-2008 05:44 am (UTC)
And there's the difference. Appearance is not morality.
11th-Jan-2008 02:12 am (UTC)
It's a school. They're kids. They need to learn to act professional and dress professional, because they're (supposedly) going to be adults eventually. So, mandatory haircuts all the way.

Speaking of, I need a haircut myself. It's getting unruly.
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