Why Taking Away Teenager’s Fashion Sense is Taking Away Their Independence

Last week a story appeared on the news about a cheerleader who was removed from her squad because she refused to straighten her curly hair. This might not be the only reason, but if so, certainly she should have been able to put her hair into a pony tail. You can read the full story here.

Fitting in

Society “grooms” our children. The word “groom” is not meant as a pun in this case, but it does offer a connection to how our teenagers think they should see themselves. Society dictates everything and anything about these young adults; their friends, their fashion, and even their social media.

The same–but not really

Teenagers want to fit in and be just like everyone else–but not really. They still have their idiosyncrasies along with their favorite pair of ripped jeans. These teenagers soon become conformists for fear of being different.

All there is

At this stage in their life, individuality defines who they are. It’s all they got! Constantly being told what to do, where to go, and how to behave, these young independents soon realize they have the power of style. Peer acceptance is the key component to their daily routine. Our young ones control their own destiny and this is how they control us. We may not agree with their style, but if they are willing to take the risk, then they must also be willing to accept the feedback. Given that most teenagers “don’t care” what anyone thinks, they risk it anyway.

What matters doesn’t matter

Enjoying swim practice yesterday, I was reminded of the “hair” story I mentioned above. In this picture I’ve posted, my team member is expressing her individuality. It is easy to spot the geometric pink, white and purple, fashionable cap and pink iridescent mirrored goggles. (Thank goodness because that’s the only way I can figure out which lane she’s in since the swimmers all look the same under water) While the black cap is the “suggested” cap and “black” goggles are the team colors, the coach is flexible. This is important because it allows the swimmers to be part of a team while maintaining their individuality.

Clearly there are rules about uniforms and team representation; everyone should dress the same on all sports. I would bet the cheerleader probably knew ahead of time about the “hair” rules, but so what? Are we really that austere of a society that we would dictate an individuals’ hair style? When teenagers lose control of their looks, they lose control of the one thing that makes them who they are. It is so hard to get teenagers to comply as it is. We should not focus so much on the physical aspects as we should on their attitudes.

Can’t our society adjust for each child to actively participate in any societal function and still be free to express themselves? We should be encouraging creativity and individualism instead of stifling it.



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