Saturday, January 31, 2009

No dyed hair allowed!

Tetsu's getting tired of seeing patchwork pictures on my blog. He doesn't understand that world. He prefers my posts about cats and Choco and family memories. Not that he READS any of the posts but he likes looking at pictures besides fabric and fabric and more fabric.

So today I'm writing about memories of when Takumi was in high school and Leiya was in jr. high.

Japanese schools have very strict dress codes and besides the regulation uniforms there are so many do's and don'ts that it seems very militaristic. For example:

"Girls' hair must be cut above the shoulder or kept in pigtails. Only black and dark blue elastic bands may be used."

"Students must bow to the statue of the school founder upon entrance to the school" (this one was for the private high school.)

"No pierced ears or dyed hair allowed."

The hair dye rule was the one that we managed to break and got hauled onto the carpet for.

One summer Takumi and Leiya and I went back to sunny Southern California for a month to be with my family. Takumi wanted to spike his hair like the other American teenagers, something he hadn't been allowed to do in Japanese high school. Okay. No harm in that. At the supermarket Takumi picked up a bottle of hair gel called "Sunlit Sparkle" or something like that. I did notice that it said it was for blonds and was good for the summer highlighted look. My kids have black hair. Dumb me didn't think a $4 bottle of hair gel was going to do much damage.

Well, it was a great gel! Takumi's hair spiked high and hard and both kids thought this a wonderful product. In fact, both kids lathered it onto their hair and played around in front of the mirror making odd hair dos. (Yes, these were teenagers. But with a new toy they are still kids at heart!) That same day however, we suddenly decided to make a day trip to the beach and neither child washed their hair before we started out. You can see where this is leading.

After a long day at the beach we piled in the car and I got a glance of my two kids in the rear view mirror.

"Oh my gosh! You guys have RED hair! Tetsu's going to kill me!"

Back home a label check showed the hair gel had peroxide in it which was activated by the strong sunlight and thus the change of hair color. I was horrified but Takumi and Leiya thought it a great product. No one else in my family seemed worried about their hair so the kids enjoyed the summer with red hair.

The night before we returned to Japan, Leiya and I went to Wal Mart and bought some black hair dye because I knew she'd get thrown out of school with red hair. I think Takumi just decided to cut his hair back before school started. Back in Japan Tetsu wasn't too happy with the results of our summer playtime but I promised we'd have a black haired Leiya before school started again. Well, the dye worked and Leiya went to school with no one the wiser but within a couple of weeks the black started washing out and she was back to red hair. That meant a letter from the school telling us that our daughter had disobeyed the no hair dying rules and we should get her hair back to normal color right away. I dyed it again. It stayed black for two weeks.

Okay. Let's try a beauty salon and have it done right this time. Again, fine for a couple of weeks but pretty soon Leiya's hair was back to red. Another letter from the school telling us that we were slacking as parents in allowing Leiya to dye her hair. At some point Tetsu blew a fuse and wrote back a very CLEAR letter saying that Leiya had NEVER dyed her hair in the first place (true) and we had now DYED her hair three times though the rule was NO HAIR DYING ALLOWED and we were now finished with the issue and would let Leiya's hair be any color it wanted to be!

The difficulties of living in a society where everyone is supposed to have black hair...

Leiya wants you to know that she doesn't look as stupid (her words not mine) as she did when she was 13. Here is a recent picture. Both kids have black hair...


Sew Create It - Jane said...

What a hilarious story! I guess rules are rules! :o)

Caron said...

Tanya, this article was just too funny! Your kids are gorgeous either way - red or black hair.

When I was a student in the 70's at the National Music Camp in Interlochen, Michigan we had to wear uniforms (light blue button shirts, navy blue corderoy knickers and light blue knee socks) we were supposed to all look alike. We went out of our way to look different with our hair, jewelry, makeup, and sweaters. Rules are made for conformity - but kids will always be individuals, won't they?

Mart Bright said...

Both kids are cute as can be, red hair or black hair. In grad school I had a close Japanese friend who had freckles and brown highlights in her amazingly long hair. she told me she got hassled for dyeing it all the time, even though it was naturally like that! She said she got ridiculed for the freckles too. Incidentally, I wonder if that's why so many Japanese here seem to dye their hair. Just to flaunt the rules!

The Calico Quilter said...

The fact that you got busted because you were TRYING to conform! Priceless! A teenager will find a way to keep from blending in, a parent is pretty lucky if it's just hair color.

Although, it you examine their choices, their "non-conforming" tends to start looking pretty conformist with all the other teens. I remember a story about my friend having a screaming fight with her 14 year old daughter in the middle of the J. C. Penney store because my friend refused to pay the exhorbitant price for the "right" jeans. I guess this seems alien to me because until I started working part time and earning money I didn't have a say about my clothes in high school. I wore what was bought for me. Of course, when I was in high school, the cool clothes were plaid skirts, Pappagallo flats or Bass Weejuns, monogrammed sweaters and Etienne Aigner purses. Pretty tame, huh?

Mary said...

Keith doesn't read my blog all the time but he does check it out every now and then. I think he wishes I'd stick to my quilting and leave off some of the photos I post of him!

I went to Catholic Schools for 12 years and then on to Nursing school so I grew up with LOTS of restrictions on what I could wear to school and what I could do with my hair. Adam went through a stage in high school where he was dyeing his hair all the time - I figured it was a tame way to explore some self expression!

Diane said...

Oh Tanya, the stories you tell! Tetsu's letter, illustrating the irony of the rule, is absolutely priceless. I'm glad your children have had the opportunity to live in a less oppressive culture. Their is plenty wrong with American culture too, but at least we're more lenient when it comes to individuality. Tell Leiya she is gorgeous no matter what her age, expression, or hair color.

Diane said...

And the use of "their" instead of "there" was a typo rather than ignorance of my own language.

CT said...

That post was just too funny! I too was in private schools all the time, but the rules were strict only for guys. We girls just had to dress decently AND not show tatoos.Other than that, it was a fair, baby! I had (in four and a half years) red hair, blonde hair, black hair, brown with blonde highlights hair, brown with pink highlights hair, black with red highlights hair, military cropped hair, waist lenght hair, curly hair and pin straight hair.

It's a wonder I have any hair left at all!

Your kids look gorgeous, no matter what hair color!

Rae Ann said...

You have just beautiful children. Takumi is very handsom and your daughter Leiya is just, well there is no word... lovely. Do you need a baseball bat or shootgun? I'm sure she will have many suitors following her. Rae Ann

Connie W said...

Your two grown-up children are beautiful / handsome in both photos and nobody looks stupid, no ma'am they don't! I wish the American schools would add some rules about dress and other things. I can't believe the way some kids look and wonder what their parents must be thinking. I guess finding the middle ground would be good for both the Japanese and the American schools. Just my two-cents' worth.

BrendaLou said...

My children attended a private Christian elementary school (K-8) and while not actually forbidden, frowned on dyed hair. Imagine my horror to find six 13 years olds in my daughter's bathroom dying their hair black....all were blonds. I was so afraid their mothers would kill me for allowing it. I just KNEW they'd been too quiet upstairs! This too shall pass....and it all eventually faded or grew out.

scottishlass said...

Considering that most *idoru* now in Japan have dyed hair (e.g. Kimura Takuya) I find those no dye hair rules ridiculous. But then most rules are in one way or the other.
I attended a Roman Catholic Convent school when I was a kid and we had similar rules. One nun already had her scissors redy when I came to school one day with open long hair instead of the customary pigtails ... and I was 17 at that time :s

I wonder what they would do with children of mixed heritage that do have naturally coloured hair ... like what would they have done if Leiya and Takumi had naturally reddish hair?

Laura said...

that is a great story. I would fit right in in a Japanese school. My hair is as grey as can be and I'm not dying it!! lol

Chocolate Cat said...

Our school has similar rules and although we haven't 'broken'!! the dying one, we did have problems at the end of last year as my sons hair and sideburns were too long and a trip to the hairdresser was requested a day before the summer holiday break!!!!!!!