This Eighth Grader Was Called to the Principal's Office for Her "Too Poofy" Hair
In early November, a Toronto eighth-grader's school day was interrupted when she was called to the principal's office because her natural hair was "too poofy."
According to the girl's aunt, Kaysie Quansah, who posted on Facebook about the incident, Amesbury Middle School's principal Tracey Barnes "told my niece that she needs to put her hair up, gave her a hair band/scrunchie/ponytail holder (whatever you'd like to call it) and repeatedly told her to do something about her hair."
After Quansah's niece pushed back, she broke down in tears. The principal then called the girl's mom, Teresa, and told her that her daughter's hair was "too poofy," "unprofessional" and that "no one would hire her with hair like that."
The girl in question is 13 years old. Local news outlets including City News grabbed an interview with the girl and her mother, who mentioned that her daughter had been repeatedly chastised by the school's principal — who is black — since wearing her natural hair to school.
The girl was taken completely by surprise: Hair styles are not even included in the Toronto District School Board's dress code.
"I didn't see what the big deal was about my hair because it wasn't bothering anybody," the young girl told City News. "I was just doing my work, so I didn't see why I had to be pulled out of the class."
Ryan Bird, the communications officer for Toronto District School Board, told Mic that "for privacy reasons, we can't speak to the details about this specific interaction, but we are aware that the principal spoke with a student about their hair approximately three weeks ago."
He added, "The superintendent has met with the family and continues to work with both the family and school to resolve any concerns."
A stigma too many women of color face: Over the past few weeks, the Internet has had a growing response to the story, with both the Huffington Post and Refinery29 covering the story, which is resonating with thousands on Tumblr.
That's in part because the incident this 13-year-old girl dealt with is unfortunately nothing new. Most recently, an 11-year-old from Texas was kicked off her cheerleading team because she didn't straighten her hair for competitions. In 2013, a 12-year-old Florida girl was reportedly threatened with expulsion after her hair — which other students bullied her for — made her a "distraction." That same year, 7-year-old Tiana Parker was sent home and ultimately had to switch schools for wearing dreadlocks, a "forbidden hairstyle" at her school in Tulsa, Oklahoma.
These girls all came up against various stigmas and misunderstandings of their hair, a reality for many people of color. As Mic's Erika Turner noted previously, "To have black hair means being subject to highest degree of scrutiny." For women of color, who have long faced the challenge of confirming to or rejecting white standards of beauty, that scrutiny is especially acute.
But it shouldn't be, particularly for schoolgirls who just want to learn. Watch the original City News segment below: