A high school student has filed a lawsuit calling attention to strict dress codes in Japan—but her complaint doesn't actually involve clothes. The 18-year-old says administrators at Kaifukan High School in Osaka threatened to expel her in 2015 if she didn't dye her hair black, then kicked her out after she obliged because streaks of her naturally brown hair were still visible. The lawsuit filed against the Osaka prefectural government says the unidentified teen went on to dye her hair multiple times only to suffer a rash on her scalp and damage to her hair, per the Guardian. The lawsuit seeking $20,000 also alleges mental suffering, reports Quartz.
The Osaka prefecture is asking the court to reject the claim, with the head of Kaifukan High School saying the school forbids students to dye or bleach their hair, per Reuters. However, the rule appears aimed at preventing students from lightening their hair, and he declined to comment on whether it would be OK to do the reverse and dye brown hair black. Highlighting a "stigma against 'un-Japanese' characteristics" in Japan, Quartz notes several other schools have strict rules regarding appearance, including how girls can wear their hair and eyebrows. An Asahi Shimbun survey earlier this year found 57% of high schools in Tokyo require students with light-colored hair to provide proof that it's natural, per the BBC. (Read more Japan stories.)