Pin It
Keash Festival Hair
Hair Taiba AkhuetiePhotography Michèle Côté

London school abandons decision to ban cornrows after online backlash


TextAlex Peters

The ban was originally instated to ensure female students look ‘neat, tidy, and presentable’

A school in North London has reversed its decision to ban cornrows after receiving widespread backlash over the announcement. 

St. John’s Senior School in Enfield sent a letter out to parents last Thursday (September 12) explaining that they were revising uniform policy after an increase in female students wearing hair extensions which, the letter states, are “currently not allowed in any form.” In the letter, the school outlined a number of new regulations being implemented in order to ensure students look “neat, tidy, and presentable.” These included that plaits must be thin to medium in size, colour must be natural and hair must be worn no longer than shoulder length. “Cornrows or knotted braids will not be permitted,” the letter adds.   

The move soon came under fire, however, after Bolu Babalola shared the letter with her Twitter followers on Friday morning. “It actually makes my heart hurt, young black girls have to deal with this shit in SCHOOL. They are told to suppress themselves for what?!?! I am spitting fire,” she wrote, adding “To be clear, this is a form of active racial aggression.”

The post quickly racked up thousands of comments and retweets from people who were equally outraged by the ban and its racist implications. “This is so disgusting. They are targeting young black girls and our hair. What does hair have to do with learning ???” commented one user. “I bet if Susan shows up with “boxer braids” it’s a nonissue,” said another.

In response to the outcry, by Friday afternoon the school had back-peddled, with headmaster Alexander Tardios saying in a statement “in light of concerns raised by a number of parents and pupils, we appreciate that, while we believe it is appropriate to place a restriction on hair length, our proposals would be unduly restrictive on the styles girls may wish to adopt.” 

Using the language of “neatness” and “tidiness” to police black hairstyles comes with a long, loaded history of racial discrimination. In July of this year, California became the first state to ban racial discrimination based on hair after The CROWN Act was passed.

“The history of our nation is riddled with laws and societal norms that equated “blackness,” and the associated physical traits, for example, dark skin, kinky and curly hair to a badge of inferiority,” the bill stated. “This idea also permeated societal understanding of professionalism. Professionalism was, and still is, closely linked to European features and mannerisms, which entails that those who do not naturally fall into Eurocentric norms must alter their appearances... in order to be deemed professional.”

From Brittany Noble, a news anchor in Mississippi who claimed she was fired after being told her natural hair was “unprofessional” by her employer to high school wrestler, Andrew Johnson who had his dreadlocks forcibly cut by a referee in order to not forfeit his match last year, black people have long been punished for wearing their hair in natural hairstyles. It is high time this form of racism is put an end to.

Read Next
moschino pre-fall 2020 hair make-up
Chain nails and face tattoos: Moschino’s homeboys and girls take NYC Backstage
NARS
François Nars tells all about the decadent new NARS Studio 54 collection Beauty news
Rosalia
Javier Ceferino is the horror-inspired MUA behind Rosalía’s fiercest looks Beauty Feature
egg freezing fertility pregnancy
Everything you could ever want to know about freezing your eggs Beauty Feature
Screenshot 2019-12-09 at 15.34.37
Exploring the playful world of slime therapy Beauty Feature
Luisa Popovic artist hair
Artist Luisa Popović creates wild hair looks out of just about anything artist
Kanye West
The best Twitter reactions to Kanye West’s bizarre silver opera ensemble Beauty news
beauty bots trend future
The future is here: Beauty bots are set to take over in 2020 Beauty Trends
Man Made documentary t cooper trans fitcon bodybuilder
Kai-Isaiah Jamal & T Cooper discuss trans masculinity in new film Man Made Beauty Feature
Leanne Woodley
Leanne Woodley's intricate nail designs are miniature works of art Spotlight
Billie Eilish
RIP Billie Eilish’s slime green roots Beauty news
devil octopus lips russia filler plastic surgery
Exploring ‘devil lips’, the Russian plastic surgery Instagram trend Beauty news
pantone classic blue 2020 trend shade
8 beauty products to match Pantone’s colour of the year – Classic Blue products
Diplo
Diplo joins the weird new wellness craze of butthole tanning Beauty news
_images_uploads_gallery_trixie_2
‘I always wanted to make my own make-up’ – Trixie Mattel talks beauty Beauty Feature
05
Made Up: Celebrate bombastic, decadent beauty in this glamorous new shoot Photo story