For most girls, letting their hair grow long or cutting it short is a matter of style.
For a group of girls in Foshan, Guangdong province, it's a matter of being allowed back into school.
As many as 32 girls in Chancheng Experimental High School have been suspended and will have to take a course on "morals" for refusing to cut their hair.
In written replies to the school leaders, students refuse to abide by the regulations on hair in a school in Foshan, Guangdong province. The Chinese characters on the paper read "no haircut, no quitting school." [CFP]
"The students have been asked to cut their hair in accordance with school regulations," said Zhang Jianqiang, director of the school's moral education office.
But the decision is not sitting well with the girls.
"How can the school use a single regulation to ask all the students to have short hair? The rule has violated our rights," said a 17-year-old girl surnamed Huang.
Huang, together with the other 31 suspended students, all major in music, are about to attend an examination later this month.
"Long hair helps boost our image before the judges," she said.
The regulation was made at an executive meeting by teachers in March and is meant improve the school's image, according to Zhang. But students said they were not invited to attend the meeting.
Under the regulation, students are also asked not to dye their hair or have exotic hair styles.
Teachers and student leaders conducted an inspection on Wednesday, asking all students to shorten their hair before going to school.
Those who couldn't be persuaded to give up their long hair were suspended, Zhang said.
"We have organized a temporary moral training course for students with long hair. They are not allowed to attend school until their long hair is cut," Zhang said.
Students will be asked to leave or transfer to other schools if they insist on not cutting their hair, Zhang added.
Lu Baochang, a lawyer with the Guangdong Xingyu Law Firm, said such punishment was too heavy-handed.
"It is hard for schools to ask all students to have a common practice in accordance with a single standard, especially in setting a regulation to judge students' appearances," Lu said.
But schools do have the right to ask students to obey school rules, Lu said.
An official with the Chancheng district educational bureau, surnamed Zheng, told China Daily yesterday the school's regulation asking students to have short hair was in accordance with educational laws.