Japan Bans Ponytails on Schoolgirls For Fear Of Sexually Arousing Male Peers, Media Says
He said school leaders told him that a ponytail is prohibited because it exposes the nape of the neck, something officials deem would get schoolboys too excited.
"They’re worried boys will look at girls, which is similar to the reasoning behind the white-only underwear rule. I’ve always criticised these rules, but because there’s such a lack of dissent and it’s become so normalised, pupils have no choice but to accept them," the former teacher told Vice.
No One Should Stand Out
Other rules dictate the acceptable colour of socks, the shape of eyebrows and hairstyles. Students are told to have straight black hair and pupils whose hair deviates from this standard – curly or of a different tint – have to submit evidence that their hair has not been tampered with.
The number of rules and the rigour with which they are applied vary from school to school: last year, a court in the city of Osaka awarded a young woman $3,000 for emotional distress after teachers demanded she dye her hair because it was not “black enough”.
That same year, a mixed-race pupil accused officials at her school of racism after her photo in the yearbook was edited so that her hair looked black.
The strict regulations stem from the so-called philosophy of buraku kosoku, which was adopted by Japan in second half of the 19th century. According to Asao Naito, an associate professor of sociology from Meiji University, the purpose of this rigid discipline is so that no one individual should stand out. This is reportedly done to eradicate distractions and keep pupils focused on their studies.
Sugiyama stressed that the rules are irrational and have no purpose, pointing out that schools which ponytails are often perfectly happy to allow girls to have a bob hairstyle which exposes as much of the neck as a ponytail.
Naito recalls how 40 years ago, when he was in elementary and middle school, rules forbade the wearing of long skirts, which typically were used by sukeban (delinquent girls). “For that reason, long skirts were banned and made shorter. But now, schools don’t allow short skirts and are lengthening them,” he said.
In some cases, parents have managed to persuade school officials to repeal the regulations, but the majority of educational institutions still require pupils to dress according to the rules. According to 'Japan Today', 58 percent of schools in Nagasaki prefecture still require individuals to wear white underwear.