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Lake County, FL Schools Want to Ban "Extreme Hair and Makeup"

By Dawn Damalas Meehan |

I guess this girl couldn't attend public school in Lake County.

According to My Fox Orlando, Lake County school officials want to ban extreme makeup and hairstyles from their schools.  Their reasons are that it’s distracting and it’s a safety issue.  They think that banning extreme hairdos will cut down on distractions in the classroom.

For real?  I had pink and purple hair back in high school.  I’m pretty sure it had no effect on my (or anyone else’s learning).  I got good grades.  Well, except in math, but that wasn’t because of my hair; it was because it was math.  Anyone who was in school with me and failed your classes due to my “extreme hair” feel free to set me straight here.

Students are used to seeing other students with crazy hair, makeup, and/or clothing. According to my experts (my own teens), no one cares. It doesn’t distract them. It doesn’t hinder their learning experience. It’s a non-issue.

A school spokesperson even went so far as to say that too much mascara, eyeshadow, or bangs that blocked a person’s eyes was a safety issue.  Puh-lease.  My middle son has always had long hair.  I can’t remember the last time I saw his eyes.  Yet, he’s never walked into a wall, fallen in the hallway, or had any other safety related issues because of his long hair.  And really?  Mascara?  A safety issue?  Sure, too much eye makeup could leave a student looking like Tammy Faye, but I still can’t figure out how it could be a safety issue.  I think that’s quite a stretch.

And how do you enforce such a rule?  If a student dyes her brown hair blond, is that extreme?  It’s not her natural color, but it’s not a color of the rainbow.  Where would that fall if these new rules pass?  Would boys have to wear their hair short?  What constitutes too much makeup?  If the rules come to pass, that leaves an awful lot of interpretation up to teachers and staff, and who wants to open that can of worms?

This is public school, people.  And the public is made up of all sorts of different folks.  Teens, especially, are trying to find their place in the world and self-expression is an important part of that equation.  I say, “Stop trying to put everyone into a cookie cutter mold of the ideal student and let them be.”  The final vote will take place when kids go back to school on August 22.

What do you think? Should teens be allowed to express themselves in public school, or should schools have the power to dictate how students look?

Image:  Thank you, random girl, for letting me take your picture at a Starbucks in Chicago

Parents, you can relax: Having a Weird Kid Isn’t So Bad

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About Dawn Damalas Meehan

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Dawn Damalas Meehan

Dawn Damalas Meehan is a single mom living in Orlando with her six children, ages 17 to 6. She's the author of Because I Said So and You'll Lose the Baby Weight (and Other Lies About Pregnancy and Childbirth). Read bio and latest posts → Read Dawn's latest posts →

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24 thoughts on “Lake County, FL Schools Want to Ban "Extreme Hair and Makeup"

  1. Lisa @ Oh Boy Oh Boy Oh Boy says:

    I agree, it’s DUMB! But I also think it’s impractical, I mean WHO dictates what’s extreme. Hair in the eyes is a very normal style for bangs now. I do know some of our local schools have outlawed unnatural hair colors, but honestly I would be the parent that would totally let me kid dye their hair purple and then stand behind them when they get suspended! I’ve been dying my hair since middle school and my favorite color ever was the recent pink highlights I had!
    Why not make the kids pull their damn pants up before they worry about mascara as a safety issue!!!

  2. Meagan Francis says:

    LOL – when I saw “safety issue” next to the photo of the kid up top, I thought, “well, that mohawk DOES look kind of sharp…”

    Dumb.

  3. Beej says:

    I think you know my stance on this, since TheBoy has an 8.5 inch-tall mohawk that’s bright pink (the effect of pool water on red dye…d’oh!).

    Out of the ordinary hair is not a distraction to learning. Thick eyeliner is not a distraction to learning. If they were, most of the students at my son’s school would be learning very little since they’d be “suffering” the distraction of almost half the students, and a good portion of the teachers, having multi-colored hair, mohawks, dreadlocks, etc. and bold makeup. Seriously – you’ve seen my kid, and at his school his hair is not really all that “out there.” LOL

    Y’know what’s a distraction in schools? Other kids. Hormonal changes and the emotions that go with them. That bird that just landed in the tree about 30 feet from the window. Gastric distress from the burrito surprise served in the cafeteria that day. A hangnail. Distraction is everywhere!

    I really dislike these rules regarding hair as well as most of the dress code rules. It’s discriminatory to dictate that boys must have short hair but girls may have hair down to their kneecaps.

    What was your question again? Oh yeah. Teens, I’ll broaden that to not only teens but students, should be allowed to express themselves appearance-wise in public schools with minimal restriction. Examples of “no-no” things would be profanity/vulgarity on clothing, exposure of private body areas, etc.

  4. goddess says:

    I was totally guilty of waaaay too much mascara and other makeup, long bangs and a ton of jewelry- back in the 80s. I guess Catholic girls’ high schools are more liberal than public schools in Florida, LOL! They saved their angst for measuring the length of our skirts.

  5. goddess says:

    Doncha know- schools and government knows better how to raise your k8ids than YOU, – duh!!

  6. Amanda says:

    The primary goal of public school is to educate children. It is not meant to be a fashoin show. Tennagers can dress like weirdos or as you put it, “express themselves” on their own time. Most people don’t get to dress however the heck they want to at work, so why should school be any different? If a school wants to make a no visible facial piercings rule, a no haircolor not found in nature rule, or a skirt/shorts length rule, that is fine by me.

  7. Amanda says:

    By the way, don’t almost all public schools have some sort of dress or appearance codes? Upon thinking about it, I’m kind of surprised that this is even a story.

  8. Annika says:

    This is so sad. I had blue hair all through high school, I’m a 4th year biophysics doctoral student and I STILL have blue hair. Looks do not affect academic performance. I’ve gotten straight As in high school, college and grad school. Let kids explore who they are while they’re still kids, since it won’t be as easy to do later.

  9. Sheryl says:

    As a mother of an incredibly smart, well-rounded kid once told me, “If this [her hair being blue] is the biggest form of rebellion she does, I’m very lucky.” That said, the kid in the picture with the mohawk? I sure wouldn’t want to be sitting behind her trying to see the board. To the back of the class, spikey!

  10. Lisa says:

    The 8 in tall haircut could block someone’s line of sight. A shorter but similiar haircut would be fine.

    Color doesn’t matter nor does make up if it doesn’t smell BUT revealing clothes ARE distracting to other students in my experience and should not be allowed. I would think most parents would prefer not to have their daughters visible thong distracting the boys behind her as they oggle her rear or the boys to her side leering down her low cut shirt at her bosom.

    But those the person claiming you would support your child’s violating school rules, please consider what YOU are teaching your child.

    Oh and to the author, your attitude about math is pathetic and I hope you don’t express that to your children

  11. Amanda says:

    i go to a lake county school. I will be a senior this year. my freshmen year we were not aloud to have piercings. my friend decided to get a bunch of piercings and dye her hair different colors. because of her we were aloud to have piercings and have our hair the way we wanted it to be. for the past couple months i have had my hair blue and purple. everyone in school loved my hair. even the teachers loved my hair. every day people complimented me because of my hair. in the next month or 2 i will have 11 piercings and red and yellow hair and i will have 2 tattoos, if the people at school don’t like it then that’s their problem. its our body. we should be able to do what we want with it before we have to change because of the jobs we will have in the future. me and my friends are going to stand up for ourselves and if the school board doesn’t like it then they can gtf over themselves..my hair and piercings DO NOT cause a distraction and are NOT a safety issue.

  12. Dawn Damalas Meehan says:

    Amanda, “Most people don’t get to dress however the heck they want to at work, so why should school be any different?” Because school IS different than work. Very different!

    “By the way, don’t almost all public schools have some sort of dress or appearance codes? Upon thinking about it, I’m kind of surprised that this is even a story.’ I don’t know of any public schools with such rules as those proposed by Lake County. I’m not saying that none exist, but I’ve never heard of any.

    Lisa, I may not have superior math skills, but I possess a sense of humor.

  13. Dawn Damalas Meehan says:

    If I was a student at a Lake County school, I’d like to see the proof that brightly colored hair or heavy makeup causes distractions or safety issues. Where are the studies that have found extreme hair to be a learning distraction? I think it’s a convenient, albeit made-up, reason to force everyone into a ‘sameness mold’.

  14. Amanda says:

    Dying my hair and the way i have my hair cut is a way i can express myself and i love how it is and i am NOT going to change it. It is NOT a distraction or a safety issue. They are just using that as an excuse to control us even more and its not going to work

  15. June says:

    It’s a distraction to my teaching – let me explain. I teach middle school and really could care less what the kids are wearing, unless it is a t-shirt that would offend someone’s race, religion, sexual-orientation, etc. Hair and make-up – even less of a concern. But when new rules regarding dress code are implemented, the students continue to be not distracted and the teachers are given something else to juggle, more on their plate, yet another mandate. I would like the bell to ring, let my students into the room and begin the exciting hour of learning I had planned instead of having to put everything on hold to fill out a form, send a student to the office, initiate a conversation about how they look. Give me (and the kids) a break.

  16. Kris says:

    This is ridiculus for one this is the way of a school trying to get rid of “goth/scene” kids at there school and that is pretty unacceptable if u ask me. Another thing is some of the people commenting on this having such uncomposed attitude towards the writter of this story she simply feels that people should know how judging these schools are! Kids need to find themselves and u only get to be a kid once so why not have fun while u can

  17. Alane says:

    I’m totally with you dawn, there is nothing wrong with personal expression with regards to hair/makeup etc. I think that clothes are also a great way to show your personality but they do need boundaries there especially with hemlines, necklines & droopy pants that reveal undies of various types – yuck!
    There is a kid in my small town with a mohawk & recently he told me he was thinking of shaving it off so I plead with him not to – finally getting long enough to spike & love seeing his crazy hair.

  18. jboogie says:

    Students in my district have to have natural colored hair, no facial piercings whatsoever with the exception of ears (but no big gaping holes or whatever), no chains on pants, pants have to be pulled up, and no midriffs can be showing. And if you are one of those parents that stands behind your kid for being suspended over something as trivial as what they think is their right to have purple hair, then please excuse me when I roll my eyes at everything you say about your childs education after that because obviously? You don’t take it very seriously. If you would allow your child to miss classtime over that, then you aren’t a parent that I would take seriously. Rules are rules, and believe it or not, they are there to protect your kid, not to flex some arbitrary power muscle. Dye it purple in the summer. Or better yet, just go ahead and let her drop out because she isn’t getting her way! That will really show her how to succeed.

  19. Linda, t.o.o. says:

    “Rules are rules, and believe it or not, they are there to protect your kid, not to flex some arbitrary power muscle.” Except that these rules actually ARE just arbitrary. So, no, rules are not “just” rules. Life is hard enough without discriminating against children for their fashion choices. It’s policies like this that are the real distraction.

  20. LG says:

    I don’t know whether extreme hair, make-up or expressing one’s self at school is a distraction. it’s probably NOT a distraction per se…but I do know that many studies have shown that school uniforms increase learning, and encourage better behavior. There was a movement to adopt some type of uniform in public schools a few years back….and say what you want about blue hair, or youth etc…..we are judged by our appearences…it is the rare job where you can show up to work exactly how you want….and I think giving boundaries to kids–already in high school, hence old enough to learn some responsiblity—sends a positive message—it’s not all about you!

  21. Linda, t.o.o. says:

    I think it sends the message that you should be a mindless lemming who does what everyelse does. Conformity! Conformity! Conformity! @@.

  22. lisa Smith says:

    This is rediulous. My daughter dyed her bottom layer of hair bright red last year. I approved of it. But wen she came home from school she was furious, the school had told her that she cannot go back to school until it was out. After several days of removing color there was still pink in it. She continued to go to school, but they placed her in a class call BIC(Behavior. Intervention. Class), I was appaled. They called my job hundreds of times because they did not want her there. So they after awhile demanded we buy a wig! So we did, she was so embarrassed she came home crying! Weeks have passed, and she told me that the school was allowing the cheerleaders and art students to dye there hair. I was outraged now. I called the school and they told me that it is the end of the year so they are allowing it. So me and my daughter tried again. And the next day we had to go through the whole undying process again! The school has lost all my respect , and I am not to happy with them.

  23. Shannon says:

    Your appearance as a teenager really has no bearing on your success in high school or beyond. When my husband was 15-16, he wore those stupid giant Jnco pants (so big he tripped over them, fell and broke his nose) and dyed his hair every shade Manic Panic ever produced. His hair was red, orange and yellow for his senior picture. He had a pierced tongue at 16. But he graduated from high school a year early, had a bachelor’s degree at 19 and an MBA at 22, we’ve been married for 6 years and he’s an IT project manager. No piercings now, and his lone tattoo is a “Mom” heart on his bicep. I can see banning clothing/accessories/hairstyles for safety reasons (like the giant pants), but a kid trying to stand out and differentiate him/herself isn’t hurting anyone except people who take it seriously.

  24. Bobby says:

    Is this even legal? hair and make up are a type of expression. In the bill of rights it says that people are allowed to express themselves and stand up for what they believe in. They are sharing there opinion. It;s who they are. You can’t take that away from them.

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