Rules issued in 1972 compelled Thai pupils to have identical hairstyles — a trim not below the earlobes for girls and a maximum five-centimetre length for boys — until the end of high school.
But students are now hoping to flaunt their individuality after an edict by Thailand’s education ministry in May scrapped the measure.
The issue, in a nation which emphasises collective culture over individualism, was sparked by an anonymous complaint by a 15-year-old student to the National Human Rights Commission of Thailand in 2011, saying the strict rules violated human rights and freedom.
“It made adolescent students lack confidence and lose concentration in studying,” the student said in the letter, which won mass support across social media among teenagers.
The letter stirred debate in a country where the education system often faces accusations of promoting rigid conformity over creativity and independent thought.
Under the new rules, girls are able to grow their hair long — although they will have to wear it tied back in matching ponytails — while boys can grow their hair to the nape of their neck.
Yes, when I was going to school in Thailand I had to wear a pudding-bowl bob. No, oddly enough, I do not have any pictures of me wearing my hair that way, but here is an example:
When I was young, I asked Sister Joan of Arc (yes, that was her name and you had to say all of it!) why I couldn't wear my hair long like Jesus. Sister Joan of Arc told me to go stand in the corner with my arms straight out, just like Jesus on the cross. Even in Thailand nuns are very tough.
Growing up in Thailand children were not allowed to speak when they got their hair cut. You sat quietly in the salon chair because there was nothing to say. Every young girl got the same pudding bowl hair cut (a student style haircut), and every boy got his hair cut short. The barber shops and beauty salons had no choice in this matter. Even students from private schools like the Archdiocese of Chanthaburi had to wear their hair the same way.
It was not until I moved to this country that I got to tell my hairdresser how I wanted my hair done. That's why I love this country very much.