9.03.2008

Uniforms...An Ongoing Debate



My sweet niece Elizabeth (the one holding Lucy) has just entered high school. I inquired on how she liked it and if she missed her elementary school. Well, she is definitely an enthusiastic freshmen but her reply about missing the elementary was and emphatic, "No, I hate SJS, now." Which I thought was so sad... She had been a student there since kindergarten and her younger sisters go there, as well. Not to mention her mom, me, and her aunt to name a few. What struck me as odd was why she was so against it now? It had to do with uniforms and how strict the dress code had gotten down to the size of earrings the girls had to wear. She was absolutely against it!

If you hadn't figured it out SJS is a catholic school. They regulate everything but I don't remember it being that bad.

Elizabeth and I had a brief discussion about it and she really was concerned on how the stricter dress code would impact everybody's individuality and creativity.

"How are you supposed to stand out as an individual if you're dressed like the next person," she asked.
Her mean auntie answered, "Through your schoolwork, your writing, your personality..."

Well, we left it at that but this debate always bugs me and now I'm opening the discussion again with you my cyberspace buddies.

I wore a uniform for a brief period of my school years and never felt like my creativity was stunted. If anything, when I look back to those years, I was more focused on my schoolwork than anything else. You never had to worry about what you looked like because everybody looked the same. In this case, it was a plus. I remember clearly that during middle school, my creative writing skills flourished. My penmanship was impeccable and my personality shined on stage, whether it was singing for the choir or during my dance and piano recitals.

Another, argument and very current with the times is that uniforms are eco-friendly. The child only needs a few to last through a couple of weeks before doing laundry which would cut down both your electric bill and the clothes budget for the year. Just think, no more crazy clothes swaps meetings to go to or runs to the local consignment or donation center. You just keep it for the next child or pass them along to a friend with younger aged children. Aside from getting unique shoes from time to time, it's truly "eco" and cost effective.

As to the creativity buster, again, I don't believe that uniforms prevent children from being creative. I never felt like my creativity was stunted. Having that uniform on made me feel like part of a community, a family and pride for my school. Elizabeth, in addition to, her mom were great athletes and both awarded for those skills.

It comes down to this. The personality will always shine through no matter what you're wearing. If the skills or attributes are strong enough they will break through the barriers.

Just like a flower that finds it was through the cracks of a sidewalk. You can't hold it back from blooming.

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4 comments:

  1. I agree with you, Liza...my son attends a Catholic school and granted, he's a boy (so less interested in what he wears!) but we like the whole uniform policy. It does dictate hair length & color (as in "natural" color not pink!), jewelry, hair accessories, socks, belt, make-up. The ridiculous amount of money people (both parents & kids) put into the "it" shoes or "it" item of clothing for children is crazy - but that's a personal choice. But when that comes to school I think it becomes a distraction - it becomes about what "I" have vs. what "you" have and starts a trend of making self-worth & status built on appearance, how cool you dress, etc. There is enough pressure on kids from various sources - there is plenty of competition in school already between athletics, grades, talents, you name it. I see uniforms as leveling the playing fields in a certain respect. I went to a public school (vs. my husband and his sisters, who attended Catholic schools) and I certainly gave in to the pressure of clothing propoganda as a teen. I say a big "Amen" to uniforms! Let's let our children find more important ways to express their creativity & individuality!

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  2. From the perspective of someone who spent from 1st grade through high school in uniform, then went into the military, uniforms rock.

    When in uniform you are always aware that you are representing something greater that yourself alone. I think it makes one more self aware of behavior. Also while in school, being freed up from the battle of 'what to wear', it gave me more freedom to express my individuality in far more productive ways.

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  3. Honey, I agree with you also. Attitude matters and keeping a positive attitude and having a charming personality, which Elizabeth has a great one, will trump everything else that may be required. Keep these open discussion up. They are great. Love you, your husband.

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Thank you.