Short hair rebel
Pim attended Thai schools where life was not always smooth for her. Now a student at the prestigious Duke University in the US, she looks back at one part of Thai school life that was particularly bothersome.
From the very first sentence, you know that Pim hates short hair and sees no good reason for the rules requiring it in Thai schools. Notice, however, she tries very hard to present both sides of the argument, an essential part of good opinion writing.
Short hair rebel
I never want to have short hair again in my life. For nine years while going to Thai schools I had to cut my hair short according to regulations. On the first Monday of every month, the teacher carried a list of student names and measured the length of our hair from our earlobe with her finger. If the length was greater than half an inch, our names would be marked on the list. Sometimes, the teacher just cut our hair in front of the class.
At the primary level, I went to an all-girls private school for six years. The teacher checked our hair every month. However, we could tie our hair with blue, red or black ribbons and use colourful hair clips.
I lost confidence because I didn’t think I looked good with short hair. Some of my friends moved to private and international schools. I envied them because they could grow their hair long, dye their hair and have really shiny ponytails. They always laughed about how short my hair was. I was so humiliated and eventually stopped hanging out with them.
I tried to rebel against my teachers so many times. I hid in the bathroom with my friends for two hours when the teacher checked other students’ hair. I tried using a hair clip to curl the end of my hair to make it look short. I failed, as usual, because the teacher straightened the end of my hair using her fingers to ensure that it didn’t exceed half an inch.
In middle school, the end of our hair had to be exactly 1 centimetre from our earlobe. No colourful hair clips or ribbons were allowed. I (left) never felt confident when going to school or going out on weekends.
It got to the point that the teacher could not tolerate this anymore. She asked me, “If you can’t follow a really simple rule, how can you grow up to be a good citizen who follows the laws of society?” She always emphasised that the goal of having short hair was to ensure that students could focus only on academics, not on appearance. Students should believe what adults say. They know best.
Looking back now, I still question what my teacher said. I spent lot of time in middle school crying about how I didn’t like how I looked. However, I studied very hard. I got into Duke. I wouldn’t have spent less time on my academics if I had had long hair. Moreover, I believe I’m one of the good Thai citizens who always gives back to society. I got involved in projects to make education accessible to kids in poverty. I firmly believe that having long hair would not make me a corrupt or indifferent citizen. I question whether questioning the existing rules is an indication of how good or bad a person is as a citizen or a student.
In high school, we finally were allowed to have long hair and wear ponytail to school! However, hair dye and colourful ribbons were still not allowed. That's me on the right.
Some adults, like my dad, argued that the reason for having short hair was not only for the students to focus on academics, but also to prevent disease caused by lice which is more infectious in humid weather. It’s better to keep one’s hair short, especially because young children don’t know how to take good care of their hygiene. Perhaps, but I still think schools could educate young people to keep their body clean instead of arbitrarily telling them to cut their hair.
Of course, this whole essay is about me, a girl who never wants to have short hair ever in my life. One of the reasons is as simple as I don’t like short hair. However, looking deeper at this issue now, I think it poses a few more questions. I wonder how Thai people would answer them.
First, when seeking a solution to a problem, should schools educate students to understand the nature of the problem or should they just give out orders? Should schools prohibit all students from having long hair instead of teaching them about how to be hygienic to avoid disease? Second, was I wrong when questioning the rule that all students should have short hair? Was my teacher right when saying I would not be a good citizen if I could not follow a simple rule? Essentially, does one’s willingness to follow orders determine how good he or she is as a citizen?