For many people, whether you’re into an alternative fashion or not, hair is important. It’s one of the first things people see when looking at you. How you look and dress is usually completed with how you work with your hair. Being a Gaijin Gyaru (外人ギャル), hair is an important physical aspect of your appearance. But it’s not always accepted due to the colors and some of the extreme styles.
In places like Japan, it is more acceptable of having your “natural” straight and black hair. If you had anything else, you were most likely seen as a delinquent in school or already judged as not a good worker.
There is an unbelievable amount of hairstyle rules in Japanese schools. Some require to have students to keep hair in low ponytails and dye their naturally brown hair black. There is a limited list of allowed hairstyles. Some even require proof of natural hair color!
Pantene Japan, a hair-care brand of Procter & Gamble (P&G) Japan, created the “#HairWeGo What’s Wrong With My Hair” campaign. Through the power of social media and public outlets like the radio, newspaper ads and even Youtube, it challenged these rules.
On April 8, 2019, Pantene Japan created a short video about students and teachers sharing honest opinions about hair-related rules in school and Natural Hair Certificates. Even teachers admitted that these rules are too old fashioned for today’s students.
As part of the campaign, Pantene Japan created a survey with about 1,000 current and former students and current teachers in both middle and high schools. Most were not really for the rules. About one in 13 students said they have been asked to dye their hair black even if it was brown. 70% of teachers only had doubts and over 90% of students never heard the reasoning for these rules.
“News of high school students being forced to dye their hair black provided the inspiration for this campaign,” explains Yoshiaki Okura, Regional Associate Brand Director, Hair Care Focused Market, at Procter & Gamble. “Hair represents one’s individuality, both chosen and innate. Overly strict school rules are restricting both types and no one seems to understand why,” comments Okura. “School should be a place to find one’s individuality, which leads to self-confidence that carries students through their life. This is why this issue really struck a chord. Individuality and confidence are also key elements of Pantene Japan’s brand philosophy, ‘My hair moves me forward.’ We hope that the ‘#HairWeGo What’s Wrong With My Hair’ campaign will bring attention to this issue, and provide a catalyst for dialogue that will help create a society where students are respected as individuals.”
How you do your hair should never restrict you from living life like everyone else. We are all individuals with different preferences and likes. Who we are is reflected by how we keep our physical appearance. I am proud of the students and teachers who spoke out about these rules. And I really hope that things will get better for them. Because why should anyone hide their true self?
“My hair moves me forward”.