A Uniform Double Standard

Eldest attends a school with a uniform, and I love it.  In September, October, May and June, he’s in khaki shorts and a navy blue polo shirt.  Easy and casual.  From November to April, he wears grey slacks, a belt, a white shirt and a school tie.  There’s a navy blazer, too, for special days.  Easy and crisp.

The uniform does everything it’s supposed to do: he looks good in it, it takes the thinking out of what to wear, it makes the kids look as crisp as can be expected for teen boys, it demarcates the school day as a time of work, it makes laundry easier and I don’t have to shop as often.

I love it.  For the boys.

The girls in the middle and upper school have to wear skirts and knee socks and, frankly, I don’t think anyone over the age of 10 should be in knee socks and a skirt.  It’s ridiculous.  The uniform, which is supposed to take how you look out of the equation, becomes about how to pull off a skirt and knee socks without looking ridiculous.  I would not want to appear in public in one.  Skirts, especially knee-length or shorter skirts, require a certain demure disposition that I have no time for.  Skirts require a level of prim and proper that makes the freedom of pants look all the more appealing.  I’d be happier to see all the students in pants all the time.  (It’s telling that when I looked for illustrations for this post, my search turned up more sexualized images of girls in uniform than I care to mention.)

So, while I love the freedom that the uniform gives me as the parent of a boy, I hate the way that a uniform skirt limits the freedom of the girls who have to wear it.

A uniform double standard.



3 thoughts on “A Uniform Double Standard

  1. I also have a love/hate relationship with uniforms and dress codes. I think that teaching children to dress appropriately for the work place is what we should be doing by the time they are in middle school and high school. Not suits and ties, but business casual, khakis, polo shirts, nice blouses and skirts (if they choose). If it is appropriate for work it is appropriate for school should be what we are teaching them so when they do get a job we don’t have to make HR recommendations like no t-shirts with words or ripped jeans are to be worn in the work place.

    • In the UK that whole “dress for work” thing kicks in for most school 6th forms (age 16+)…or at least it used to. I think some places have become a bit more casual now to match the further education colleges – it goes along with things like calling teachers by their first names (which I think is a little bit too casual while still in “secondary school”)

  2. Is it really a double standard to have a “traditional” gender-based uniform? It is probably outdated (losts of schools now give girls the option of either pants or a skirt), but the schools are enforcing the same gender rules on both the boys (I’m assuming they can’t opt for a skirt/dress) and the girls.
    However, yes knee socks on teenagers sounds ridiculous!

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