School isn’t about “self-expression.” School is about making yourself a productive part of society through education. You can be educated and productive no matter what color your hair is, or, for that matter, whether you have hair at all.
I still receive comments on the topic, some from students who claim they are far more confident with a different hair color than they were with their hair in its natural state.
No, I wouldn’t want to make a child less confident, but at the same time, I think it’s pretty important a child understand that if their confidence is dependent solely on the color of their hair, they might need to reconsider how they derive confidence.
And believe it or not, I do understand the concept (and the importance) of “self-expression.” I just happen to believe there has to be more than one way to express yourself. When I was in school, beside the school newspaper I was also involved in my school’s literary magazine. In those two endeavors, I saw students expressing themselves through writing, poetry and art. I had friends who expressed themselves through photography. Some did unique hair designs and outfits.
But the majority of them always found ways to express themselves and stay within the dress code.
It’s okay to disagree with your dress code. But until it’s changed, you should follow it.
I once suggested that school is only the beginning of a cramp to self-expression: you might well end up working for an employer who imposes similar restrictions on your appearance. To someone who asked what right an employer would have to do so, my answer was simple: it’s the employer who pays your salary, and therefore has every right to demand that you properly represent his business.
Research suggests a benefit to creative limits.
But what if we’ve overlooked something important in this silly hair color debate? Could it be, despite what some see as their supposed “right” to self-expression being denied, that such limitations might have a bright side?
Back in 2014, Fast Company wrote an article titled, “Proof That Constraints Can Actually Make You More Creative.” Belle Beth Cooper argues restrictions “take away some of the choices available to us, and with them, the paralysis of choice that stops us from getting started.”
LIMITATIONS. None of us like them, yet limitation is the fertile ground in which the seeds of creativity sprout and grow. Without the challenge of limitation, there is no need for creativity. We would never be pushed into seeing things in new ways, because there would be no incentive. When we are limited by circumstance, situation, or supply, we are forced to to work around that barrier in order to accomplish what we want. Challenges, when approached positively, cause us to exercise the muscles of our creative minds.
There will always be limitations, and we will always face them in areas in which we want absolutely no limitations.
There will come a time, no matter how old you are and no matter how many limitations you’ve already faced, that you’ll encounter another one. I’m sorry to have to give you such bad news, but sooner or later, it’s probably a mathematical certainty.
But maybe a limitation on something as seemingly unimportant (in the grand scheme of things) as hair color might just force people to get a bit creative. Hair color can’t be the only way people can express themselves.
It may take a bit of doing to find a different method, but if that search for an alternative strengthens one’s creativity in the process, I can’t believe anyone would think that would be a bad trade-off.
How did you best express yourself when you were in school?
Patrick is a Christian with more than 26 years experience in professional writing, producing and marketing. His professional background also includes social media, reporting for broadcast television and the web, directing, videography and photography. He enjoys getting to know people over coffee and spending time with his dog.