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   As the bell rings in all its cringeworthy glory to signify the end of class, you swim your way through an ocean of Pinewood students.

   It is an ocean of brunettes and blondes, with an occasional redhead. But where are the crazy colors? The bubblegum pinks, the streaks of electric blue?

   There are none. Pinewood has placed restrictions on the outer appearance of students that pertain to hair, accessories, and clothing.

   Of course, the most basic restrictions on appearance should be continuously upheld; after all, school is a place of learning. However, individuality is a trait that many teenagers struggle and experiment with, especially in this point of their lives. Expression of individuality is something that should be given wide boundaries, for uniqueness and originality should be encouraged and celebrated.

   The purpose of the dress code is to ensure that there are parameters to modesty, as well as limited distractions in an educational environment.

   The dress code also keeps up a clean reputation for the school. Even so, it’s hard to imagine how a student’s hair color or style could keep fellow pupils from learning, or hold others back in any way. Of course, this is assuming that the style and color is reasonable and in good taste.

   I’m not implying that there should be no dress code whatsoever, but I feel that there are definitely some areas that could be loosened up. Freedom of appearance regarding hair should be permitted as long as the style is rational. If a student is passionate about wanting to change something as simple as their hair, he or she should be allowed to.

   Pinewood has also placed restrictions on any body piercings other than ears. Again, I don’t feel that a student having a nose ring would majorly impact the students around them in terms of learning in the classroom.

   Additionally, belly button piercings wouldn’t even be visible due to the regulations where the midriff must not be visible. Body piercings is quite a personal choice that shouldn’t have rules dictated by school.

   A few students at Pinewood have decided to express their own individuality through their hairstyles, without breaking the rules. Eighth grader Katarina Merk has recently made the switch from long hair to a pixie cut.

   “I was bored of having long hair, and when I looked in the mirror I didn’t see myself,” Merk said. “Like I knew it was me, but it wasn’t who I pictured myself [as].”

   Having colored or any other unique hair provides for a safe way for students to express themselves without “harming themselves or others…[as some] students might find other ways to express themselves, which can lead to bad outcomes” Merk said.

   Self expression is definitely a sticky topic, for different people find varying ways to deal with change, or the difficult journey to finding their own identity.

   Having looser but logical boundaries in terms of self expression through appearance could greatly benefit many struggling students. The physical appearance of a person’s hair hardly negatively affects the people around him or her, but it benefits the person to make the personal choice to change themselves.

   There are many other high schools in the area that most definitely allow freedom in hairstyle. Such high schools include Homestead, Fremont, and Wilcox.

   When I asked peers who attended these schools, they all replied that those with “crazy” hair or piercings didn’t distract them in the slightest when it came to education.

   Self expression should be left up to the individual without interference or pressure from surroundings.