The local operation of US beauty product brand Dove has launched a campaign to end forced haircuts in Thai schools, a move it believes will bolster students' self-esteem.
Two years ago, the rules on appropriate haircuts were changed to be more inclusive and prohibit punishments forcing students to get mandated cuts. However, according to a study by YouGov (Thailand) among students, parents, women and teachers, 74% of respondents said forced haircuts were still being used to discipline students.
It also found that more than three in five high school students believe such rules teach students that they don't have control of their own bodies, or make them feel ashamed of the way they look.
Pakachat Taychaburapanone, vice-president of beauty and personal care for Dove, said these rules and punishments can take away more than students' hair.
The study found that mandated haircuts had a negative impact on the self-confidence of eight in 10 high school students and impeded nearly half of high school students' ability to share ideas.
As part of its commitment to making beauty a source of confidence, not anxiety, Dove is calling on people across Thailand to support the hashtag campaign #LetHerGrow bid to permanently do away with forced haircuts, Ms Pakachat said. "Dove believes that when we support the confidence of our children, their sense of self increases, and their possibilities expand. "That is why we're committed to creating a future that enables our next generation to grow into the greatest version of themselves," she said.
Its advertisement on a forced haircut has stirred debate on rights violations and brought back bad memories for many when they were students in Thai schools.
The brand is working with the Girl Guides (Girl Scouts) Association of Thailand under the Royal Patronage of Her Majesty the Queen, a non-profit organisation aiming to help girls and young women develop to their fullest potential.
"A forced haircut can be a traumatic experience for students with consequences lasting well beyond their school years," said Asst Prof Jiraporn Arunakul, a paediatrician at Ramathibodi Hospital.