“They’re worried boys will look at girls.”
Schools in Japan are banning female students from wearing their hair in ponytails, in case the exposed nape of the neck sexually excites male students.
The rule is just one on the long list of strict policies in the country’s schools, when it comes to dress code, that students must follow.
Former school teacher and TikToker Motoki Sugiyama told Vice that the rule on ponytails is similar to one that forbids female students from wearing underwear that isn’t the colour white.
“They’re worried boys will look at girls, which is similar to the reasoning behind upholding a white-only underwear colour rule,” he said.
“I’ve always criticised these rules, but because there’s such a lack of criticism and it’s become so normalised, students have no choice but to accept them.”
Sugiyama says he has always felt that the rules are sexist and discourage students’ self-expression. He said he taught at several schools in the Shizuoka area for 11 years, and each one banned ponytails.
According to Vice, other restrictions in schools include skirt length, colour of socks, shape of eyebrows and colour of hair. Hair dye is forbidden and if students do not have black and straight hair, they are required to somehow prove that what they have is their natural hair.
Parents and students have also expressed outrage at the gendered rules. Due to the backlash, some schools are beginning to drop them.
Last year, one high school in Kagoshima, changed its harsh rules after students complained. While ponytails are still prohibited, they can now wear underwear that isn’t just white.
Sugiyama now posts informative videos about the education system in Japan to his TikTok. He sometimes highlights the ridiculousness of school polices. As he recently pointed out, certain schools may ban ponytails but still allow female students to have short haircuts that expose the nape of their neck.