A forced haircut takes away more than a girl’s hair.
Dove Thailand, the local operation of the US personal care brand owned by British multinational consumer goods company Unilever, has launched a campaign to end the oppressive school system in enforcing mandated haircuts among students with #LetHerGrow. Its campaign both serves as a call and an effort to bolster self-confidence and autonomy among Thai girls so they can reach their greatest potential.
An outdated system
It’s been a long-held, outdated tradition, and it’s been long overdue for a change. Over the past two years, protests and calls for education reform in Thailand have been louder than ever – from students, rights groups, citizens, and activists alike.
Oppressive educational norms, such as mandated school uniforms and strict school curriculums that do not foster creativity and critical thought, took centre stage. Among those concerns, one of the main points Thai students have rallied on the streets against was mandated haircuts for students, especially among girls.
Those calls were seemingly answered two years ago when the rules on appropriate haircuts were changed to be more inclusive and prohibit punishments forcing students to get mandated cuts.
However, according to a study by YouGov (Thailand) among students, parents, women and teachers, 74% of respondents said forced haircuts were still being used to discipline students.
Dove Thailand is now also answering that call. The brand earlier this week released new data on the impact mandated haircuts have on students’ well-being and confidence.
In the findings, it was revealed that:
- Mandated haircuts have a negative impact on nearly half of high school students’ ability to share ideas.
- More than 3 in 5 high school students believe the hair rules teach students that they don’t have control of their bodies or that the way they look is not good enough.
- Beyond high school, 71% of young women (19-24) report that mandated haircuts had a negative impact on their self-confidence.
- The research also found there’s a need for more awareness of the relaxed hair rules, with more than 40% of teachers being unaware of the details of the changes.
- Ultimately, 3 in 5 respondents agreed the hair rules are outdated and should no longer be enforced in schools.
Dove has since been working with experts and education partners with a commitment to creating a more inclusive and thoughtful future where students can grow into their greatest potential, coming up with their latest campaign: #LetHerGrow.
“In its longstanding commitment to making beauty a source of confidence, not anxiety, Dove is calling on people across Thailand to #LetHerGrow by standing in solidarity to end forced haircuts for good,” the company said in their statement. “In its longstanding commitment to making beauty a source of confidence, not anxiety, Dove is calling on people across Thailand to #LetHerGrow by standing in solidarity to end forced haircuts for good.”
Among other partners, the brand has teamed up with Assistant Professor Dr. Jiraporn Arunakul, an adolescent medicine specialist and founder of the Facebook Page “Take Kids with Us”, to provide expert insights on this issue and the role confidence plays in childhood development.
“A forced haircut can be a traumatic experience for students with consequences lasting well beyond their school years,” said Assistant Professor Dr. Jiraporn Arunakul. “These rules and punishments can inhibit the development of confidence and self-esteem. If we want our children to grow up as confident adults in the future, we have to establish a good foundation for their confidence and self-esteem today.”
A commitment to change
“Dove believes that when we support the confidence of our children, their sense of self increases and their possibilities expand. That is why we’re committed to creating a future that enables our next generation to grow into the greatest version of themselves,” said Pakachat Taychaburapanone, Vice President of beauty and personal care for the Dove brand. “We’re proud to be working with experts to educate and advocate for change, along with creating The Growth Fund to support a sustained effort in making a difference in the lives of young people,” Taychaburapanone added.
For more than 15 years through the Dove Self-Esteem Project, Dove has been helping parents, mentors, teachers and youth leaders deliver self-esteem education that has reached more than 82 million young people globally, making it one of the largest providers of body confidence education in the world. By 2030, Dove is aiming to have helped 250 million build their positive body image.
The brand is currently working with the Girl Guides (Girl Scouts) Association of Thailand (GGAT) under the Royal Patronage of Her Majesty the Queen, a nonprofit organization dedicated to enabling girls and young women to develop their fullest potential as responsible citizens of the world for over 60 years. As partners, Dove will collaborate with GGAT to make an impact on students across Thailand.
In a collective effort to bring about awareness and change, parents, students and educators can pledge their support by visiting Dove’s #LetHerGrow website or scanning one of the many QR codes being broadcast and displayed throughout Thailand.
With a force in numbers, the cumulative support will reinforce ongoing initiatives to demonstrate that now is the time to end the persistence of forced haircuts for good. Additionally, in its dedication to this cause, Dove has established The Growth Fund and has committed to directing THB 10,000,000 of support over 3 years through research, amplifying expert voices, working with schools and educators, and building awareness of the impact that issues like this have on the confidence and self-esteem of the next generation.