Readers’ Forum: The dated and flawed grooming policies at BYU

BYU’s Honor Code prevents men from having hair that covers their ears or goes past their shoulders. Celebrity Jason Momoa is an example of a guy with well-kept long hair. (Google Images)

Ever since I was the age of three years old, I had longer hair than most men. I was called names and made fun of for it every single day, yet I decided to keep it. I loved my hair so much that it became part of my identity: I loved being the kid with long hair.

Although it was part of my identity and I was known by my peers for having long hair, this did not define me. People will often assume men with long hair are lazy, careless and irresponsible. I worked my entire life to disprove these assumptions and show people that there was a lot more to a person than their outward appearance, it did not define them.

When I was accepted into the college of my dreams I was ecstatic. I was so excited to go to the prestigious college I had heard so much about growing up, but when I was told that I needed to cut my hair in order to attend, my immediate joy fleeted. Although every student that attends the college needs to agree to follow the honor code, it confused me that the university that claims to be so inclusive would endorse a rule like this.

Though the college may claim the grooming policies should stay in effect because long hair can appear greasy and unkempt, this is not true as a greasy and unkempt look is not exclusive to men or to long hair. According to Glamor Magazine, “Those with fine or thin hair, however, may find their hair looks greasy after just one day.” This applies to both men and women with short and long hair. Unkempt and greasy hair can come from anyone which renders this argument nonsensical.

According to the history of the BYU Honor Code, the grooming standards were instated due to a response to the counter-culture of the late 60s-70s. One of the largest parts of this was the hippie movement. This rule was to make sure that students attending BYU were not representing that culture, but this era of counterculture is over. The movement is no longer in effect rendering the resistance to it useless. If BYU was opposing counter-culture in general, then they would update their rules to match these movements. However, they are not.

The grooming standards also do not stem from the doctrine BYU follows either. It is never mentioned in any of the sacred texts that men aren’t allowed to have long hair or beards. To harmonize with this, some of the Church’s most influential leaders had long hair or a beard. Many of the prophets preceding the initial movement had long beards and the perfect figure Jesus Christ had long hair as well.

The Church offers little to no explanation of why this rule exists even after the diminishing of counter-culture. The Church continues to make exceptions to this rule for individuals making educational religious videos or allowing students to break the rule because of a cultural tradition. With so many flaws and exceptions, why even have this rule at all? The BYU grooming standards are dated and flawed and do nothing but restrict students who wish to express themselves. 

Not only would this rule be extremely easy to nullify, not only would this allow students to feel more comfortable and expressive, but this would be extremely beneficial to BYU’s overall publicity. Removing this rule would make BYU appear to be much more open and considerate to anyone who wishes to join their school and become a cougar.

Dane Keckley

Highland, Utah

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