Tue | Dec 11, 2018

Patria-Kaye Aarons | Let locks be free 

Published:Friday | August 31, 2018 | 12:00 AM

What is this big obsession with people's personal style preferences? Why do government workers insist on becoming the fashion police?

No sooner did I pop the champagne in celebration of the right to expose my scandalously naked shoulders did Education Minister Ruel Reid make me lose my appetite and recork the bottle.

The minister released the official student dress and grooming policy for the new school year. With every clause I read, my annoyance grew. It just all seemed to me one gross example of majoring in the minor.

For girls, painstaking detail was taken to spell out how hair must be combed. The proportion and scale one section should be to the next, the kind and number of accessories that could be worn, and how each hair adornment should colour-coordinate with the school uniform.

I took greatest umbrage with the section dealing with boys' hair. In my opinion, once again, the male Rastafarian student was being unfairly targeted.

The grooming guidelines insist that hair that is allowed to grow past the base of the neck "must be covered at all times with approved headwear".

 

What's the difference?

 

For what? What's so different about locked hair that it needs to be hidden? Why punish little boys with this sanctimonious steam cap every day. Did the Ministry of Education even ask Rastafarian parents if they want to cover their children's heads?

It irks me that growing dreadlocks is some kind of 'bly' that mustn't be flaunted in the faces of the other boys susceptible to catching colds in their moles. Once again, it appears the presumption is made that locks are dirty. That somehow, locks are the snakes of Medusa and will steal away the souls of the children to their left and right. Just lunacy!

Is it that the ministry feels that all male locks are unsightly? Would it prefer that Alando Terrelonge and Damion Crawford wrap their heads with turbans in Parliament?

I remember going to primary school with the most handsome Rasta boy and some teachers were downright cruel to him. After a rambunctious lunchtime romp, they wouldn't let him in class until every single lock was invisible - tucked beneath his little khaki tam. One teacher in particular would stage this daily production at the classroom door, cursing him with all the cruel Rastafarian cliches.

Even at eight years old, that thing incensed me.

 

Relish the opportunity

 

Oh to be young again. I would relish the opportunity to challenge the declared regulations. I was a bit defiant in high school and this grooming guideline would have been the perfect material for me to express my individuality (and cheekiness).

I'd remove my eyebrows entirely. Whoopi Goldberg style. When questioned by my principal, I would retort that I used wax and not a razor to remove the facial hair, hence complying with the 'no-shaved eyebrows' rule.

Next, I would dutifully part my hair in two equal sections down the middle as the rules require. However, I would groom the plaits to grow up and arched in - like horns.

Every Tuesday, I would come to school with my hair freshly shampooed. Unrinsed; still soapy. Just happy bubbles floating out of my head as a visible demonstration that my hair is squeaky clean.

I would also bleach the hairs in my left nose hole and dye the hairs in the right a bright patriotic school colour. I would flare my nostrils wildly every time a teacher asked me a question. There are no written regulations for nose hairs.

I can hear the 'discipline and order' preachers reeling off their rehearsed script, but I don't buy it. I would much rather we focus our attention on getting more students passing more subjects. I'm far more concerned with what's stopping communication and comprehension from happening in classrooms, and I'm pretty sure uneven, exposed locks aren't the problem.

- Patria-Kaye Aarons is a confectioner and broadcaster. Email feedback to columns@gleanerjm.com and findpatria@gmail.com.