School's 'One Ponytail A Month' Rule Sparks Debate About Teacher Dress Codes & Double Standards

"This is why people leave the profession" one teacher responded, while others wondered why male teachers don't have similar rules.

woman with ponytail Roman Samborskyi via Shutterstock / Bianca Marie Arreola and evegenybobrov via Canva

It's no secret that the teaching profession is in crisis nowadays, with inadequate pay, increasing student behavior problems and political attacks in many parts of the country driving massive waves of teacher resignations.

But even amidst these enormous problems, many school districts seem to be missing the point, focusing on petty, invented problems that teachers say are making things even worse — and resulting in even more people quitting.


A woman detailed her district's 'one ponytail a month' teacher dress code regulating how female teachers wear their hair. 

You'd be hard-pressed to find a better example of misplaced priorities than policing female teachers' looks. But it's among the many ridiculous working conditions teachers called out in response to a viral TikTok by creator @educatorandrea in which she highlighted ways school administrators undermine the realities teachers face.



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Andrea's viral video included infuriating contradictions like administrators urging teachers to focus on self-care while also requiring them to sign up for unpaid overtime, and forbidding them from using Amazon wish lists to access the school supplies they are required to purchase for their whole classes out of pocket — only $500 of which they're permitted by law to write-off on their taxes. 

Andrea's video of course immediately resonated with teachers, but one reply she received in particular blew teachers' minds — a woman who reported that her district's ludicrous rules included a teacher dress code requiring female teachers wear their hair in a ponytail no more than once a month. 

The woman says she and her fellow teachers have been 'bullied' into accepting her school's teacher dress code and its absurd rule about ponytails.

"Our [high school] just passed a one ponytail per month rule," teacher and TikToker @raddishseed wrote in her comment, going on to angrily muse, "WTF you coming to do my hair every morning? Like who [the f-ck] keeps up with that?!"



The teacher went on to say that her fellow teachers were "bullied" into going along with the new rule, as they are in a district not represented by a teacher's union. The states of Georgia, Indiana, North Carolina, South Carolina, Texas, Virginia and Wisconsin majorly restrict or outright ban collective bargaining for teachers. 


Ponytails are inarguably a petty and misplaced priority, and Andrea's stunned reaction said it all — "I'm sorry, they... they did what now?" And other teachers were infuriated by it.

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Teachers feel the teacher dress code's one ponytail rule is full of double standards, and held it up as an example of why teachers are quitting in droves.

"A question for the district where teachers are only allowed to wear a ponytail one time per month," teacher and TikToker @millennialmsfrizz said in her response. Referring to male teachers, she went on to ask, "are you guys regulating how often certain teachers wear crocs, shapeless khakis, random polos with the school logo on it from ten years ago they found in a locker room?"



But the teacher dress code's double standards don't just stop at gender, of course. As has frequently been pointed out in recent years, dress codes in general often include standards that unequally impact people of color — for example by forbidding Black workers from wearing supposedly "unprofessional" natural hairstyles.


Teacher and TikToker @amymanlapas called this out in her response to the "one ponytail a month" rule. "Just a friendly reminder before the start of the school year that dress codes are racist, classist, and sexist, and used as a form of harassment for employees that push back against their bosses and supervisors," she said in a video.

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But what galled her most is how misplaced the district's priorities seemed to be. "At a time when people are banning books, this is what this admin is focused on," she said. "This is why people leave the teaching profession." And that's not just angry hyperbole.


At the end of the 2021-2022 school year, education research organization Chalkbeat found that teacher resignations were at an all-time high in several parts of the country, and a 2022 study found more than half of all teachers seriously considering leaving the profession. So districts might want to get their priorities in order — they have much bigger fish to fry than policing ponytails.

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John Sundholm is a news and entertainment writer who covers pop culture, social justice and human interest topics.