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Last updated: February 19, 2018

Teen Says School Forced Her to Color Her Hair Black

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A high school student from Osaka, Japan claims her public high school repeatedly forced her to dye her naturally-brown hair black or drop out of school.


Last week, she filed a lawsuit against the school district, seeking damages of about 2.2 million yen—roughly $20,000. She says she suffered “mental anguish” as well as scalp pain, irritation and rashes from the dye, Reuters reports. She has not attended school since September 2016. According to Reuters, the lawsuit claims she was forced to “either dye the hair black or quit school.” She was also banned from attending certain activities because of her natural haircolor.


In Japan, where conformity is the cultural norm, many schools have strict rules about haircolor, accessories, makeup and uniforms. A school representative allegedly told the girl’s attorney, “Even if we had a blonde foreign exchange student, we would force them to dye their hair black.”


A recent survey by an Osaka-based newspaper found that 57 percent of public high schools in Tokyo ask students with light-colored hair for proof—including childhood photos—that their haircolor is natural.