12 year old threatened to be expelled for her natural hair

Date

Candice Chung

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Because school uniforms are bland, most of us would've tried to get away with a piercing here or a friendship bracelet there to show that we are not entirely homogeneous creatures slowly being brainwashed by high school. 

Sadly these futile 'creative expressions' tend to end in detentions. But what if you naturally stood out from everyone? Would you still get in trouble for looking like yourself? 

That's the dilemma faced by 12-year-old Vanessa VanDyke from Orlando, who was threatened with expulsion because of her naturally puffy hair. It's a glorious head of frizzy tresses that she's grown to love and seems to be completely comfortable with:

AS Vanessa told Orlando news outlet Local 6: “It says that I’m unique...First of all, it’s puffy and I like it that way. I know people will tease me about it because it’s not straight. I don’t fit in.”

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But the administrators at Faith Christian Academy have given her a week to "either straighten or cut her hair or find a new school". According to The Gloss, the school's dress code states that "hair must be a natural colour and not a distraction" -- which usually refers more to things like Mohawks and experimental cuts. 

Interestingly, Vanessa has been sporting her natural hair since the start of the year but it has only become an issue when she complained to the school that other students have been bullying her because of her hair. 

And instead of punishing the bullies, the school has placed the blame squarely on Vanessa for being different. So let's get this straight, is this a warped lesson in body image? Fail to confirm and risk being removed from your friends and expelled? 

Vanessa's mum  Sabrina Kent puts things into perspective nicely for us: “A distraction to one person is not a distraction to another...You can have a kid come in with pimples on his face. Are you going to call that a distraction?”

Remember the trolls who asked US Olympic gymnast Gabby Douglas to "Do something with her hair" when she became the first person of colour to win gold medal in the individual all-round competition? 

The shocked Douglas hit back at critics with the perfect amount of sass: "I don't know where this is coming from. What's wrong with my hair? I'm like, 'I just made history and people are focused on my hair?' It can be bald or short, it doesn't matter about [my] hair."

Bottom line? Vanessa, it's not you, it's them. Definitely them. 

The Gloss