Hello! My name is AnnElise Briese and I attend a college preparatory school, where we have to wear uniforms. Let me first say that this is a personal account of going to a uniform school, and some students have probably had a greatly positive experience with their uniforms! Now, everyone can make the argument that uniforms limit creativity, and you can also use the reverse and say that it puts all children on an equal playing field so kids can't brag to one another, based on clothes. Personally, I don’t see uniforms as inherently positive or negative when it comes to a learning environment, it is the execution of the dress code that creates issues, especially for young women. At my school, girl’s have the option to wear a lot of different outfits, they just have to be specific colors or have our school’s logo, the guys, on the other hand, are significantly more limited. Girls can wear skirts in many different styles from long, knee length, pleated, or pencil, or dress pants, with lots of options for tops. Boys have a bit of a limited selection, dress pants only, and one of our many tops.
Whereas boys have more of a limited selection, I feel as though it is a safer option. All they have to worry about is wearing a belt and tucking their shirts in. Girls have many options, but skirt length continues to come into controversy for all girls at my school. We have a designated website where we must buy uniforms, and they sell many different skirt options. The problem is, the same skirt can look different on many girls with different body types. I have been told many times to buy a bigger skirt because mine are too short, but if I was to buy it bigger, it would fall right off. When I express this, they encourage me to just get it altered at a seamstress. I have noticed a trend with skirt length: for the younger, less developed girls skirt length is irrelevant and often ignored, but for some of the upperclassmen we are continuously hounded. Even the skirts we buy from the designed website, which are pretty expensive, get called inappropriate. When the girls complain that there is an inconsistency with policy, we are met with the same response, that the dress code policy is meant to teach girls how to be successful in their future fields of work.
We can complain about the dress code all day, but getting to the root of the problem is more important to me, and I think all students, even student’s without uniforms, can sympathize with me. We have bigger problems in our school system, than if a girls’ shoulders, or an extra inch of her leg is showing. Students all over America are miserable, and tired. I believe we are rarely being taught useful material, and only being taught to get good grades and pass a test. Mental health in our school system is declining and drugs are popping up in schools more often. So why is it that our teachers are concerned with a girl’s skirt length? Sure, profiling in real world interviews is common, and dressing the part important, but I think we can all read the room and know how to dress for interviews depending on the job. At school, we all just wear what is in our closet, and what is comfortable.
So, can we do anything about it? Now? I am not sure, but we all need to embrace how we feel in this moment, and when the younger generations (our kids, our friend’s kids, nieces, nephews), we must instill in them the concept that you can dress the part for your future job, but at the end, your qualifications and life experience, are so much more important than jeans vs slacks.