Your opinions on the restrictions on secondary school students hairstyles and spectacle frames

Over here in Penang, some of the premier and ‘upmarket’ schools are implementing rules and regulations on their students’ hairstyles and spectacle frames. Some students are wearing those thick frames and there are motifs of dragons and cockroaches on them! (chisin eh? dragon I can understand but cockroaches?)

One of the premier school with majority Malay students, Penang Free School (all boys), just recently set down regulations that the students hair must not be longer than 2 inches. Previously, the other premier school Chung Ling High School (also boys school), which is a Chinese school already have this strict ruling. The other girls premier school, Penang Chinese Girls School also have tight restrictions on the colour of the ribbons and the length of the girls’ hairs, skirts etc.

(a hip hop dance performed by my grandnephew-in-law from Heng Ee School during the Malaysia Open House street festival)

My two sons’ secondary school, St. Xavier Institution which has the coolest headmaster around doesn’t restrict the hairstyle but Bro. Paul and his team of discipline teachers do have a huge number of scissors hanging on the wall. (I should know ‘cos I have been ‘summoned’ there before and saw the scissors hanging on the wall, blush.)

Personally, I wouldn’t care two hoots if my sons sports long, blonde hair, wear earrings and tattoos (though probably I won’t allow tattoos because our Catholic church has an issue with defacing our bodies, the temple of God).

So, to me, I am on the fence. I believe teenagers ought to have some outlet for self-expressions. Like wearing two sizes larger pants, leaving their boxer shorts peeking out? Or doing breakdancing which I think is an energetic sports. I think we will breed a generation of perverted, bespectacled nerds if we continue pounding on the don’ts when we don’t tell the kids the whys.

(this pretty lass is the only girl in the all-boys breakdance group)

You see, our society, majority of them have certain perceptions which is very hard to change. For e.g. these group of youngsters were invited to the Malaysia Open House and they were presenting the hip-hop dance. There were lots of spectators there earlier watching all those Chinese opera stuffs but when it was the turn of these youngsters, I could hear many grumbling and running away. Some said these are the orlangs’ culture and hence very bad. (I shall leave the meaning of orlangs for you guys to guess.) Some said the music is noise etc etc. Many left in disgust because they were merely asked to leave part of the stage to make way for these young men and young lady. Sheesh, wish I can whack their heads. Ask you all to shift a little bit only, can die ah?

Well, one of the dancer there is my grandnephew-in-law (atm’s sister’s grandson?). His mom worked part-time helping me clean house (something that I am never good at 🙂 ). He wasn’t aware I was there because of the bright lights and probably he was fully concentrating on the dance. So, I squatted there taking 70 photos of them in action, burn a CD and pass to his mom for him.

His mom was earlier apprehensive with her son’s involvement in these orlangs culture and thought that breakdancing are for bad boys. Well, along with the CD of her son’s dancing, I also took some close up shots of our Penang Chief Minister earlier. So, mom is now happy that her son is indeed doing something great. Son of course is thrilled to get a surprise prized CD of them in this important event. (I hope the parents of these young people will attend their performance next time.)

There, a simple, open communication and many problems are solved. So, I wonder if our school authorities can have some kind of dialogue with the teenagers themselves and hear what they have to say before the implementation of any regulations? If we adults will just listen and then, explain to these younger generation why certain things need to be implemented, then less problems will crop up. Agree?


So, if anyone of you know who is this lengjai, just tell him that the grand-auntie who was squatting there throughout their performance with a camera is not some hotshot reporter/photographer from any newspapers. Neither is she a pervert, taking photos of youngsters. It is just her way of doing something for their great effort in trying to bridge the gap between parents and children.

34 thoughts on “Your opinions on the restrictions on secondary school students hairstyles and spectacle frames

  1. Well… I was brought to my attention that my sister’s highschool, Sabah Tshung Tsin High School has also implemented some drastic changes to its restrictions on their student’s hairstyles.

    The spectacle frame was actually in fact discussed but from what I hear, it will not be enforced.

    On the other hand, my sister mentioned to me that the hairstyles for girls are so outrageous that they are not allowed to use even hairclip to clip their hair.

    You know how the hair on the side usually can be pulled back so it hides around the ears? The highschool also banned that.

    Here’s something to ponder, with these restrictions in place, does it actually benefit the students in any way? Would they get better results with such strict rules? I on the other hand think that it’s just a mere way for a school to boost its ‘image’ if you know what I mean.

  2. Yo! Sistah Lilian!! WASSUPPP!!! Hi Five!!! *wearing baseball cap backwards, pulling pants down ’til butt crack exposed*
    Ai tell ya sexy-mama, Ai ain’t got no probs with hip-hop culture ya! Being orlang is kool yo, know what ai mean?

  3. Over here in Canada.. got some restrictions.. but nothing compared to asia lah. .of course..!
    it was very nice of you .. to take time.. to go take photos.. for your relative.
    Yes.. in a way.. we need to give these youngsters some outlet for expression. .but on the other hand.. too much freedom of anything.. can lead to what we are facing right here.. in my “ulu” town.. weed-smoking teenagers.. teenage pregnancies and of course a town that may become potentially full of welfare ppl in the future.
    So yes… i agree fully.. with you Lilian.. that any don’ts to our children.. have to be explained why. Communication is very, very important..!

  4. wah…so sweet of you. 🙂

    i personally feel that while there should always be space or an outlet for youngsters to express themselves, they should also take into consideration WHERE they need to express it.

    is it really necessary to wear mini skirts to school when you can wear nice super-mini ones while you’re out of school? is it necessary to wear pants 2 sizes bigger and sweep the school halls while u’re in school when u can wear them n show off ur flourescent undies when you go jalan-jalan? i mean i personally think that there is a time n place for everything. 🙂

  5. school system here….has tough laws..
    and it kind of like prohibiting student’s creativity..

    i read from a blog..forgot liao which one…
    they were saying, during art class…. the kids drew something… scenery…

    then teacher guide them to colour the tree green, the sky blue, the flower red…
    all but one did the other way…. the tree red, the sky blue and the flower yellow… and she got scolded…

    see wht i meant?

    we need some form of freedoms…things tht we are not allowed to do, we tend to be curious and rebellions… just like dvd, u banned the movie?
    great…good news to the dvd ahbeng

  6. oh by the way, what does long or short hair has to do with good results?

    are they saying hair shorter than 2 inches will get more As than those with hair longer than 2 inches?

    Or could it be the teachers are too free and they need to find something to do?

    i am against this silly rulings since my secondary time… sad, it still happening now..and getting worsed

    me in national school was sparred from this, but not my chinese school cousins…but u said, now the national school is following

  7. zbjernak – If you ask me, I used to think that those rulings in Chinese school was a bit like the communist style with standardised uniforms and hair-style. 🙂 And the results were blue hair Ah Bengs, sometimes. Now, they are into national school too.

    One of the reason is probably they want to implement some form of law and order. It is good in a way that school children are given the reality that there are regulations that one has to adhere. But looking at the maturity of upper secondary school children (by having my own kids and reading some of the blogs by teenagers), I would say some form of open dialogue, talk show etc where they can openly voice their wants and needs whilst the authorities can explain the need to implement regulations will go a long way.

    Seng Kor – Hahaha, kena RM2! Over here, the HM will cut in such a way that the student has to go for an immediate hair cut or else looks like kena bitten by dog.

    ahpek – The students (mostly Chinese schools) usually cut crew cut, almost botak. You mean your PD there no strict rulings like these where you find all the students semua sama style?

    Yvy – Yeah, there is a need to maintain some order but not too strict. The other thing is lately, the media are playing up and kids are learning that it is ok to membangkang. This can be dangerous in the long run. If the parents tak respect the blue uniforms, calling them names and etc,how do you expect your kids to learn respect. Did you read about one mom who went to school to hentam the discipline teacher for cutting her son’s hair? Aiyoh, like that oso can.

    MamaBoK – I suppose we are heading for that one day, except over here we won’t get any welfare, only escalating crimes.

    Cocka Doodle – ~speechless~ Wait I check dictionary first, ok?

    Ethan – There seems to be a wave of new rules and regulations. Not sure who is actually pushing for them. Well, the more famous the school, I heard have more problems like teenage pregnancies, students using the school field to pakthor at night etc.

  8. I opine that the degree of freedom varies from school to school. Saying that “students must maintain hair shorter than 2cm” is ridiculous. I used to keep hair longer than that, but as long as presentable, it should be ok. Liberal abit mah.

    IMHO, it’s alright to follow the ‘orlang’ culture if we refuse to stay original. But to bring it along to schools is no-no. Similarly, long, blonde hair, earrings and tattoos are… well, not acceptable in a school because there are regulations, rules, dresscode, code of conduct and restrictions that every student must adhere to. We find that most adults’ workplaces have this kind of restrictions on employees too, albeit more relaxed.

    In any case, students (being children and teenagers) should learn to observe these restrictions and respect them. At such age, you can’t really expect them to learn about these fundamentals elsewhere, but schools. Learn to accept ‘no’, learn to respect ‘rules’, learn that they can’t have everything their way. These are what some people may call discipline. Discipline, not too much of it (until like military level), starts from young, and it goes a long way.

  9. I always think this, “first one to do it is style, the tenth to do is cheapo follower”. Well, it take time for younster to understand that. 🙂

    Beside that, I think younster today is ok, as long as they don’t example those minister(but chinese parent will fond of it, big money mah ).

  10. By the way, of course hair and earrings have got nothing to do with academic achievements.

    Schools should not be perceived as a place merely for academic achievement – Results. Schools are institutions that shape individuals.

  11. narrowband – I agree with you that we have to prepare the school kids for some form of decorum and yet understand their need for some creativity. Actually, if it is implement from the beginning, it is pretty acceptable. But lately, with the 11 botakheads and timing is not so right. You imagine la, the parents are cussing the blue uniforms and their kids kena botakheads and the kids will in turn think that authorities are meant to be challenged. So, personally, I do openly talk with my kids about issues like the squatgate, botakhead, cartoon etc and give them food for thoughts.

    moo_t – Yeah, politicians very good career option too hor?

    Beer Brat – Reminds me of Comrade Mao and his battalion. My sons’ school is ok, can still put gel, wax and spiky if the hair is not long.

  12. zbjernak: what does long or short hair has to do with good results? i dunno for guys, but for TEENAGE gals, long hair means much, much extra time spent on grooming and primping -including during lessons. Outside school, hours that should had been used for studies could have easily been wasted on trimming the split ends strand by strand (i know coz i’ve seen it myself)…don’t forget we’re talking abt adolescents here who are searching for unique physical identity and trying hard to impress/catch the attention of the opposite sex.

    autie lilian, don’t u think there are reasons why the “premiere schools” that implement these strict rules stand out from the rest? these are schools that have less crime, better academic performance and they had produced many leaders. u would have noticed how different a school like heng ee is compared to sxi.

    i think with these strict rules, the conducive environment for education can be maintained, without the distractions of comparing who has the best/most fancy hairstyles, hair clips, earrings, shoes, bags, etc, or who is the most leng jai/leng lui in the class.

  13. Jolie – Whoaaaa, are you from Penang? If not, don’t play-play wei. Because Heng Ee and SXI are both equally good. They are the products of the mission brothers. Both schools still have the mission brothers there. I don’t want to get into the debate of comparing schools. Heng Ee was mentioned because these young men and young lady performed that marvellous hip-hop dance. SXI remains as my choicest school for all my kids. Don’t put words into my mouth, ok?

  14. ks – Got…all the while. Only PFS baru kena. But HE restrict the thick frames glasses now. Not that I care ‘cos my son in SXI wear contact lenses. muahahaha And my son looks great with crew cut because I clever give birth all my sons head round-round, not penyet wan.

  15. aunty lilian, ooopps…i honestly din notice dat the hip hop dancers are from heng ee, dats y a bit blur with ur reply. i have nothing against hip hop culture, but i mentioned the name due to its reknown less than favourable reputation in penang…everyone knows abt it and talk abt it behind closed doors.

  16. Not only school, at the university there are also non-sensical regulations about dresscode etc for “big” boys and girls. So not suprising to have such rules for school. Anyway, your post reminds me of my secondary school days (convent school) where strict rules like these are imposed. Can’t say if I am for or against these rules. All I know back then, i was not traumatised in anyway by these rules.

  17. I am all for freedom of speech and expression but in a school environment, these restrictions will at the end of the day, reduce the headaches to both parents and teachers alike, provided that they are implemented for the right reasons.

    I think that the point of restrictions is more for regulation and standardisation. If it was for anything else, then the rationalisation behind the regulation is wrong. However, if it is for standardising the uniform, I personally think that it is a good thing.

    The term ‘uniform’ in and of itself explains alot. Look it up in and you’ll have half of your questions answered.

    Why are uniform regulations (including everything that affects the outward appearance of an individual) necessary? It is not a restriction of freedom but rather a means to keep things real. Peer pressure is a very real concept no matter how much we wish to ignore it. The concept of a ‘uniform’ simply reduces the number of avenues through which peer pressure can affect a student.

    Imagine if your kids come home one day asking you for money for a sh*tty 1k hairstyle because it wasn’t regulated and everyone in school had one and if he didn’t have the same style he would just be another dumb dork with whom the children won’t play any children’s games with. Not a very nice thought. Not necessary that it will happen but its nice to think that with uniforms regulated, they’ll just have to find some other excuse not to talk to you.

  18. I am not those old fashioned type (still young at heart lar..) but I have to agree schools should restrict the students’ hairstyles and all. These restrictions have nothing to do with academic achievements… I agree.. but, you can have all the ‘A’s you want but, without discipline and submission to discipline, a smart undisciplined person is as useless as an average undisciplined joe to society. The aim of schools is not merely to groom straight ‘A’ students. It is even more important to instill the sense of responsibility and submission to authority….

    No, no to F4 hairstyles in schools… As for the girls, even in my school time, long-haired girls had to tie their hair. The ribbon color has to be either dark blue or black. I know some Chinese schools in ipoh does not allow girls to keep long hair at all…

    Thank god I can now dye my hair green and purple !! lol

  19. helen – I notice the Chinese schools are stricter than the national schools. Last time, we can wear our hair any way we want but then, there wasn’t MTV and WLT so it was either long or short.

    gbyeow – yeap, that’s my point, we must have some uniform standard but the thing is some of the implementations are done as and when needed. If it is a regulations that had been implemented for a while, then it is fine. Do you remember the Sikh’s boy who had to shave? Where do you stand on this issue? Follow the regulations or bend the rules for the sake of religion? Which is more important?

  20. As a general rule, regulations should be followed. But in the immortal words of Captain Barbosa, “they are more like guidelines”. Things should be taken into context and judged case to case.

  21. Sounds like two different problems to me.
    Orlang culture or not, each of the dancers in the group is as Malaysian as the rest of us. Apart from the persembahan, of course.
    Rebellion. Knowingly or unknowingly, HMs implementing and/or enforcing these extreme rules offer us young ones something to rebel against. As long as we’re whining about silly things like why our hair needs to be short, we won’t grumble about other things. Long hair etc. are also convenient labels to (ab)use if we don’t do well in school.
    The most important things we learn about life, we learn with our friends and family, outside of school.
    Put bluntly, what I learn in school is good for my towkay. What I learn at home benefits society… or not.
    Eh! Keluar api already! O_O!
    -splash cold water-

  22. zee – how old are you. Got older than Madonna anot? If not, donch worry. LOL.

    plink – haih, I also lost track what was the topic already. hahaha

    gbyeow – yeah, big country, kampung scene and urban scene hampalang tak sama

  23. Lillian, very touching blog on the teenagers. I admired your passion and drive. You Bother to go the extra mile to do it. How?
    I have 2 teenagers, and really trying my best to be mediator between the ah pek ( father ) and them. Somehow I am more tolerant of their current teenagers craves especially the internet games. I dont know whether I am doing right, as my eldest will be doing his O level this year, and he has not buckled down to study. Keeping my fingers crossed.

  24. I totally agree with those who say certain schools just want to boast about their “stict” image.

    Rules in schools are supposed to ensure the students get to study in a harmonies, peaceful and comfortable environment. So rules like not throwing rubbish in the class cupboard are in, of course. I DON’T see how spectacles can affect the students studies.

    I think schools should have suggestion boxes that are actually seen by the students. Most students don’t even know they can have their say about the school in a local school. Most just go “Aih, international schools have that type of system, lucky themlah. We’ll be out of our minds if we think our school will have a simple suggestion box.” But there are sugestion boxes in local schools, just somewhere in the office.

    About hip hop dances, breakdance actually originated from a tribal dance. So all those who badmouth people who perform breakdance and breakdance are just making themselves look narrowminded.

    I do think certain dance moves should be avoided when performed in front of adults. I mean, it’s not very appropriate to shake one’s backside at principles and teachers. It makes the teachers’ faces go red, even if there is an applaude from the crowd.

    Lilian, you are simply wonderful to have done this blog for teenagers. I am very glad I found this. Teenagers in Malaysia are very grateful to people like you who understand and respect teenagers’ ways. To all who think otherwise, “Caring for us is alright, but controlling us is not right.”

  25. Helen, not only in IPoh. Here in Penang, some girls from certain highschools will be surprised when they see girls from other schools with long hair. A lot of girls think all chinese schools don’t allow girls to keep long hair, well big surprise when students learn standardisation isn’t actually standard.

  26. my school experience the same thing but not for guys but for girls. they came up with a very lame and stupid rules. girls with long hair should pin up their hair with a lot of pins all over the head. for the short hair girl except for boy cut they also need to pin up their hair at the side. aint that ridiculous? for guys they are not so strict with the long its short and not spike up something like in the picture above. that male discipline teacher is too free till he will chase the girls around the school to write down their name who dont follow their stupid rules. plus, he purposely use the pen to scape out the hair where the students already pinned up.he started to do it after he is offered to be a discipline teacher this year.

Comments are closed.