School uniforms: filthy but fabulous

LOVED this school-uniform package from the Forum of Fargo-Moorhead this week, especially the column by Summer Intern Danielle Cintron.

Cintron writes about wearing school uniforms while attending private schools in Louisiana. She said it meant she could sleep in more and shave her legs less, all the while concentrating on her studies rather than the on boys with whome she shared classes.

She writes:

That uniform provided me with a sense of identity that helped me get through my awkward years. It was a common ground I shared with my fellow students, and one less thing to stress over.

Read the full column here.

The column is especially timely as students head back to class and those at Shanley High in Fargo have a particularly strict dress code, allowing only white or red polos and khacki or navy skirts and pants. Read that full story here. No schools in Jamestown require school uniforms or a strict dress code.

Reading about Cintron’s unshaved appendages reminded me of hairy-legged days of my own.

Back in my adolecence, my fellow all-girls high school classmates resemebled our all-boy school counterparts a little too well: We shaved our legs only for weekends, tied our hair in ratty buns and slept in boxers and t-shirts so in the morning, we could toss our collered polos and pleated skirts a-top of them. Morning primping consisted of brushing our teeth, as we likely slept with our unshowered hair in a ponytail and that’s how it remained throughout the day.

Brittney Spears’s school-girl-costumed “Baby… One More Time” bodice had no idea what it was gyrating about.

We were filthy, but we were fabulous.

For example, my high school was twice awarded the prestigiuous Blue Ribbon Award of Academic Excellence from the U.S. Department of Education. My freshman year, we won, WON, six state championships. And as an all-girls school, we only competed in 10 sports. We were smart, we were motived and 99 percent of us went on to some sort of after-high school educational institution.

Did uniforms have a direct corelation with that? Maybe.

We didn’t worry with which brand of jeans to wear in the morning, but students knew who was well off and who wasn’t. Hello brand-new Chevy Cavaliers and Volkswagons Jettas in the parking lot. And even though it may have reduced a few fights in the halls, if the girls really wanted to brawl, they’d war over Coach purses or Doc Martins or ex-boyfriends for that matter. My point is, uniforms aren’t a universal solution to anything. They may extinguish a few fires of adolecence but uniformed or not, young people will always battle that blaze.

In her column, Cintron writes that the uniform she wore in high school prepared her for how to dress once she was outside of it. She always dressed and prepared for her her college classes, she said, even 8 a.m. ones.

In shame, I disagree. In college, I had no idea how to wear clothes that required more than three buttons at the collar and one at the waist. And even if I did know how to wear them, I didn’t own any that would.

Cintron said she primped each day of college, and never wore sweat pants to class thanks to all she had learned in high school.

For me however, my residence-hall neighbors gasped at my in-class appearance, noticing is was startilingly similar to what I’d worn to bed the evening before.

Note: It wasn’t for lack of trying. My mother took my shopping all the time for nice, stylish clothes that actutally fit. I just wasn’t into it…. and didn’t feel pressured to be.

But before I give the impression of total sluggery, just know: college roommates took pity on me freshman year and taught me the difference between baggy, boot-legged and flare. Plus, in my attempts at professionalism as a newbie newspaper reporter, sources laughed their Ariats off when I arrived for farm and flood interviews wearing boots with pointy toes.

So while school uniforms may have taught me to skirt my sense of professional presentation, they also dressed me in confidence. I could go anywhere, do anything, talk to anyone, without assistance from Max Factor or Vidall Sassoon. I didn’t lose my right to self-expression as much as I found the courage to use it. And whatever it is I wanted, I did it because I learned the most or ran the fastest, not because my teeth were the whitest or hair the blondest.

And although my opinions regarding school uniforms teeter from those of Cintron, with every inch of my cargain sweater, I agree when she says: “It really wasn’t so bad.” Try them (or have your child’s school try them ) for a week. You just might think so too.

 

 

 

What do you think about school uniforms? Did you wear them? Did you love them? Hate them? Did they free your mind from distrations or imprison your sense of self-expression?

 

17 thoughts on “School uniforms: filthy but fabulous

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