My eldest started school this year. As we were preparing for her first day, she one complaint and one complaint only: she really hated her new school uniform.
I mean, hated it. With a passion.
“I’m excited about going to school,” she told me the weekend before school kicked off for the year, choosing her words carefully. “But I am Not Excited about that terrible uniform.”
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(She genuinely used the word terrible, at the age of five. I don’t know where she learns this stuff!)
A typically girly, lip-gloss loving, tutu-wearing five-year-old, my daughter was completely dismayed that she’d have to wear shorts.
At her school, cotton shorts and breathable sports polos are the uniform of choice for the preppies, as it makes them easier for teachers to spot in the playground.
I explained this her, and also explained that she’d be allowed to wear the dress uniform to school next year.
“Besides, if you’re wearing a skirt or a dress, you can’t run and jump and climb and play as easily,” I said.
“When you’re wearing shorts you can run around the playground without worrying that other people can see your knickers!”
She giggled then, because I’d said knickers. We got distracted and started talking about something else and I completely forgot about the conversation, until I read this.
“When we dress our girls for school,” Sam Squiers asks, “why do their uniforms still have such physical barriers?”
I hadn’t thought about school uniforms from this perspective, but it’s so true. Sam describes girls’ school uniforms as “physical shackles” and that’s a spot on description.
“The majority of school uniforms still see girls wear dresses that fly up, blouses that allow little arm movement, stockings that sweat and ladder, and long skirts that don’t permit the freedom of mobility needed to run and kick without tripping over in painful schoolyard shame,” Sam rants.
It’s partly why, if you spent a lunchtime watching girls and boys in a playground, you’ll notice that while the boys are running amok being quite active and physical, the girls are more likely to be sitting and talking – especially in high school.
That won’t be my daughter. I know I promised her a dress next year, but I’m going to renege on that offer. Because, as Sam says: “Sometimes it’s the things that are right under our eyes that are the hardest to see.”
It’s high time we re-thought our current dress uniform designs. And until then? I’m just going to have to keep her in shorts at school for as long as I can.
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