But in the case of 39 students of Jersey City's Dickinson High School earlier this month, their new do's weren't intended to flout authority. Instead, they contributed to a cause that would make Mom and Dad proud.
On June 4, the teenagers, mostly girls (and some boys too), each had 10 inches of hair shorn by the staff of Total Image Beauty Academy on Central Avenue in Jersey City.
The hair is being donated to Locks of Love, a non-profit organization based in Lake Worth, Fla. that provides hairpieces to financially disadvantaged children under age 18 who are suffering from long-term medical hair loss.
The idea for the Dickinson High students to lose their locks came from math teacher Sinead Maguire, a redhead who had her hair cut to donate to Locks of Love before she went looking for volunteers amongst the 3,200-student body.
"I think it is really is a personal gift that helps return a sense of self-worth to those who feel they don't have any after losing their hair," Maguire said.
Maguire started looking for willing hair donors in October. She made announcements in her math classes, approached students in the hallways, and put up fliers around the school.
Soon it evolved into forming an e-mail group at Yahoo (www.yahoo.com) and forming a "Locks of Love" school club with weekly meetings.Better than wigs
The Locks of Love website (www.locksoflove.org) describes how donated hair results in custom-made hair prostheses, or hairpieces, for "every child suffering from long term or permanent medical hair loss."
Usually, such items cost between $3,500 and $6,000.
The prostheses are different from wig or artificial hairpieces because they do not require the use of tape or glue and can only be removed its wearer by breaking a vacuum seal at the temples.
The prosthesis is created after parents of child with hair loss create a plaster cast mold, from which a plastic fitting cap is made that will keep the hair in place. This custom fitting cap is what provides the vacuum seal function.
The prosthesis requires between 6 and 10 ponytails. and each strand of hair is hand injected into a silicone base up to 150,000 times. Once the prostheses are provided, each child may style it to complement their facial features.
Children ages 6 to 18 can reapply for a new prosthesis every 18 months. 'Hair' to make a difference
Maguire was still elated last week about the contributions of the 39 students, along with two parents, two teachers, and one Total Image staff member.
"It's definitely a feel-good experience for everyone involved," Maguire said. "I was seeing smiles from the kids the day after they got their hair cut."
She continued, "Despite the bad rap this school gets from the press, they are good kids, and I know 75 percent of them from my classes."
More and more students began showing interest.
"I was surprised that the kids who gave their commitment in October saw this through," Maguire said.
But she recalled one girl who was enthusiastic about getting her hair cut, but was surprised after it was done.
"She was crying after she went through getting her hair cut," Maguire said. "She probably didn't realize the impact until it actually happened."
Maguire said kids are coming up to her ready to give up their hair for next year.
"They tell me, 'I'm growing my hair for next year so I can get it cut.'" she said.
Maguire also gives credit to the staff of Total Image for stepping in at the last minute and offering two hours of their time to cut the students' hair.
Michael Yun, the head of the Central Avenue Special Improvement District, also praised the students and the salon.
"It is great to see local students taking an interest in helping others and setting the standard for today's youth in Jersey City," Yun said. "Total Image Beauty Academy did right by encouraging their efforts. This is a great example of how a small business can get involved with community initiatives and capitalize on being a good neighbor."