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When Pantene released their video campaign (Apr 8), little did they know it would lead to a hair raising coup d’รฉtat amongst schoolchildren across Japan.

The #HairWeGo “What’s Wrong with My Hair” campaign soon became viral, garnering over 10 million views.

The campaign presented the findings from a survey involving over 1,000 children and teachers pursuant to the strict hair rules in Japanese schools. The rule in question states that it is mandatory for Japanese schoolchildren with brown hair to dye their hair blackโ€” natural or not.

The campaign which was masterminded by Pantene, a shampoo brand under Procter & Gamble, has since led to students and teachers coming forward to express their views on the draconian rule.

50 Shades of Black

The campaign presented that at least 1 in 13ย  former middle and high school students experienced being ‘urged’ to dye their naturally brown hair, black.

One student recounts,

‘Even after submitting a natural hair certificate, I was still told to cut or dye it. I wondered why I need to do this”

Apparently, Japanese schools take the hair homogeneity of their students very seriously. 60 percent of public schools in Japan require their students to submit a document called Natural Hair Certification.

This document confirms the natural colour and degree of curl on each head of the student body. Each head simply must be straight and black.

Another student added,

โ€œMy school makes everyone submit a Natural Hair Certificate. We have to write down what colour, how curly our hair is. I want to make sense of why this is necessary.โ€

The teachers who participated in the study, 90 percent felt the need for more progressive rules on schoolchildren’s hairstyle regulations at their school.

Hairy ordeal

Not only do the schools regulate hair colour, but most Japanese schools monitor styles and lengths.

In early 2019 alone, teachers of a school in Toyama Prefecture came under fire for forcibly cutting the hair of 44 students. Safe to say, it was because their hairstyles didn’t pass the stringent monitoring processes.

In October 2018, an 18-year-old woman sued her high school and the Osaka Prefectural Government for damages after being continuously forced to dye her naturally brown hair to the uniform black expected of Japanese schoolchildren.

She sought 2.2 million yen (S$ 27,575) in compensation for irritation to her scalp. You go girl.

Prior to enrollment to Kaifukan School in Habikino city, her mother already informed the school that her daughter was in fact, a natural brunette.

She was again, ‘urged’ to either dye it or quit school.

Finally lead-free, but only last year

Scalp irritation is not entirely uncommon with the excessive use of hair dyes seeing as the lead in hair dyes was only banned by the U.S Food and Drug Administration (FDA) last Octoberโ€” after 40 years. This new legislation will only take effect after 12 months.

According to the U.S FDA, lead in hair dyes can be linked to developmental issues, reduced fertility, organ system toxicity, cancer and other serious health problems.

Here’s the campaign that started it all: