Sorry to disappoint, but I was *that girl* in school. Always snitching & reporting on the ones with unkempt uniforms, long nails & unoiled hair, courtesy the heavy burden of carrying the disciplinarian tag. Explains the lack of votes I received during the Head Girl elections. Whatever.
But now that I think of it, after graduating with a degree in fashion design, being without a uniform for years & a significant decrease in the my snitch tendencies (hallelujah), I often reminisce of my school times, circling back to how problematic the whole ordeal was.
Especially for us girls. And the policing that happened with respect to our skirt lengths. All credits to the teachers who finessed their side-eye game, targeted at those with skirt hemlines above their knees. I’ve had my fair share of the same, given that I was a Complan girl & required a new wardrobe every 2 months. Fun times.
So that brings me to my question, do uniforms do more harm than good? Well, for starters, it’s neither black nor white. Let’s dive in.
Why Are Uniforms Important?
You see, conforming isn’t all that bad. It promotes a sense of kinship amongst a lot that may initially have nothing in common. People in sports, military & plenty other rule-abiding corporations emphasize a uniform code of dressing with psychological implications in mind.
Equality is at the apex when iterating the relevance of uniforms, especially in a school setting. You can’t have folks ragging you on the basis of an outfit deemed ‘oh so last season’ when they treat the hallways as their personal runway.
Look I’m all for expressing individuality, but bullies are built in those very hallways. So, if your parents work overtime to get you that 1 Allen Solly shirt on your birthday and Arun from 9th B doesn’t mind a splotch of ink on the ‘one of his many’ Calvin Klein button downs, you know it’s going to be showtime when things turn sour.
I’m aware that this argument largely stems from fear, but life isn’t a bed of roses. At least for the majority.
The Gender Expression Conundrum
ICYMI, we live in a heteronormative world where the majority assumes everyone to be cisgender. So, the groundwork for incorporating feedback from queer teens on school uniforms sounds like an impossible feat at this given moment.
Being a cis-het person, the gravity of the situation is beyond my comprehension if I’m being honest & can only hope that there are better alternatives & compassionate school counsellors who provide the needed support.
How Can Doing Away With Uniforms Prove Beneficial?
Simple. No cookie cutter mould to hold you down. You are your own person, sartorially and otherwise. You get to communicate with styles, personalised items like brooches & pins, hair colour or even shoes. Who knows, you might finally find a friend who listens to Florence & The Machine after they spot you wearing a t-shirt with their album art on it.
Grunge, girl next door or 70s obsessed, whatever your aesthetic is, or even if you don’t have one (cause same), how nice would it be to embrace the same at a very young age? These things may sound trivial, but maybe we won’t have so many teenagers developing an identity crisis as soon as they start their first year of college.
Middle Ground Anyone?
Now to the juicy part, aka the judge and the jury. Maybe we can tone it down a bit. What’s the deal with haircuts being every teacher’s favourite topic at morning assemblies? And ribbons, they need to go, like seriously – crime on humanity. Surely doesn’t hurt to have something common, like a blazer with an emblem or a tie with the school initials as a part of an everyday school wardrobe.
It’d also be great if schools allowed girls to wear trousers because hello, functionality? Will never forgive my school for having a skirt as a part of our P.E. uniform till grade 8. How was I supposed to defeat the red house during the kho-kho finals? Pffft.
To read up on the tyle of feminist characters in Bollywood, tap here.