Tuesday, December 28, 2010

Youth dances and hair

A couple weeks ago, i chaperoned a church youth dance for the very first time.

It was a weird experience, being the grown-up. But that’s not the aspect of it i want to talk about today.

Here’s what really caught my attention: There’s a dress and grooming code for attending dances in my stake. (As far as i can tell, there’s such dress and grooming codes for church dances at least nearly everywhere, though the details of what they are may be different.) Here, the dress and grooming standards are, essentially, the same ones that Brigham Young University requires of its students.

For the most part, this isn’t a problem, because my stake allows youth who come to the dances but aren’t following those dress and grooming rules to change their appearance on the spot, and then they’re allowed in. So, for example, a girl with more than one pair of earrings (or a boy with any earrings, or anyone with any visible non-ear body piercing) can simply remove the piercing and they’re good to go.

This even goes to the clothes the kid is wearing—if, say, a girl comes in wearing a skirt that’s too short, the stake holds a bunch of teen-sized clothing in reserve that they can change into so that they’re then following the rules. (In my opinion this is good, by the way—if you’re going to have rules on appearance that have somewhat subjective boundaries, providing a way to adhere to them on the spot seems only reasonable.)

There are, though, a few rules that don’t lend themselves to on-the-spot changing—and there lies the problem. For example, one of the rules in my stake forbids youth with multiple colors of hair (you know, like bleached ends or a streak of color)* from attending youth dances.

Fine. You can make whatever rule you like. But i wonder about whether this is actually a good sort of rule to have, one where the so-called “problem” can’t be fixed on the spot. (Basically, if someone shows up with multiple hair colors, they’ve got to go home—there’s no good way to cover it up, especially with hats not being allowed.) What, though, if a non-member who has, say, blue and blond streaks gets invited to a youth dance here? They’re not allowed to enter—if they show up, they get barred from going in. Of course, if that happens they’re less likely to show any interest in the church in the future, i would expect.

And there we have a real issue (and not necessarily the one you’d immediately think of). The big problem: Our expectations start to feed our reality—i mean, a kid with blue and blond streaks clearly isn’t the sort of person who would ever have any interest in the church, anyway, right? After all, they never seem to want to come to our dances, so their hair color must just be a reflection of a hard heart and spiritual weakness, right? And we wouldn’t want someone like that in our church, would we?

* Of course, the enforcement of this rule doesn’t extend to girls with blond highlights. I suppose they can’t really enforce that one ’cause if they did, they’d have to ban some of the youth leaders from showing up. Amazing how the practices of the ones holding more power are acceptable, even if it goes against the literal statements of those in power, isn’t it?

1 comment:

Heather the Mama Duk said...

Not having a youth yet I don't know what our rules are. I know the dress standards, though I also know those are fudged a little if the girls wear to dances what they were to church (though 99% of dances are the type where you show up in jeans anyway). When I was a youth hair color was not a standard here so I don't know if it is now or not. We have some boys who really liked to play with their hair color. No one cared at the dances at least.