Not Just Fashion Police…

…more like Fashion Nazis. A 14-year old school girl was recently threatened with expulsion for wearing a skirt 2inches shorter than the guidelines.

Follow the link and you will see a completely acceptable length of skirt for a school uniform. It’s not scandalous, it’s not baring flesh, it’s not indecent and to claim anything to the contrary is plain ridiculous.

It’s important to understand we’re talking about a school who, as mentioned in the above link, “annoyed parents by banning tight trousers as they were ‘too sexy’.” Too sexy…? For who…? Whose standards are we trying to conform to? I understand that parents may be focused on combating the blatant sexualisation of young, especially female, teenagers which seems to be a modern theme around the world, but this kind of blind adherence to what are, after all, only guidelines speaking to a much deeper, perverse motivation.

I had quite a relevant experience with school dress codes during my time in secondary school as I am not the shirt and tie kind of guy, and that was our uniform. Certain teachers would be apathetic to a top button open and/or an un-tucked-in shirt, but others were, as I said, Fashion Nazis. A single strand of thread out of place (I exaggerate only slightly) and you were immediately accosted in the hall or in the middle of class and demanded to immediately comply to the guidelines.

One has to understand, yes, these schools draw up dress code in order to maintain standards of behaviour (why the distinctly British tradition of uniforms can’t cede to the reality that uniforms are not the only way to do this, see American public schools for example) and yes adherence to school policies is both important as a life-shaping lesson and to remain part of the school, however, it is distinctly reminiscent of mindless, religious dogma when you are told “do it or we will expel you” or “these are the guidelines, follow them, or leave.”

The kind of Fashion Nazis I mentioned from my own personal experience had absolutely no issue with interfering with class time to bring a student to compliance and they were entirely unreasonable about the entire matter. I was lucky to be part of a more laid-back school where, when I did the typically teenage thing of dyeing my hair blue, I was not expelled or suspended or prevented from taking part in classes until the situation was remedied, however I was subjected to many a withering look from the Fashion Nazis and even a lecture or two, the contents of which I have long forgotten, if I had even allowed them to reach the relevant parts of my brain back then in my rebellious teenage mien. However I distinctly remember reports from friends and acquaintances of other students meeting less-fortunate ends due to similar issues. I was allowed to grow my hair long if I so wished (and promptly did when it seemed cool) other schools did not allow boys to do this (the justifications for which I can only imagine were ridiculous, sexist, backwards and plain idiotic) and I even remember a report of someone, a boy, being expelled for colouring their hair.

However it is vitally important for me to point out, not just how unreasonable some of these situations can be, but also how similar the justifications and arguments are from these Fashion Nazis for compliance with school dress codes to their estranged cousins who spray acid in the face of women who bare too much skin, or are found too near to males not of their kin; or like the groups of ‘morality police’ that patrol Iran arresting anyone dressing in ‘western clothing’ or women who are not covered from head to toe to preserve ‘piety’.

The overwhelming majority of people who argue on the side of uniforms and associated ‘strict’ dress codes argue based on an argument for the unifying nature of these policies: if everyone dresses the same, then everyone is on the same level, the poor and the rich dress the same and helps to combat marginalisation based on class or the quality of their clothing. This has always struck as pure bullshit, and it still does. Take a bunch of people, dress them the same, make them speak the same language, no matter what you do the nature of individuality and human nature will always conspire to marginalise those who, by whatever arbitrary attribute the majority is concerned with, do not conform.

You may well say, yes, fine, this is not being disputed, but the more equal the footing you set people on the less room they have to marginalise each other. Just how realistic is this though? Children are not idiots (for the most part), put a poor child with a rich child in the same clothing and it’s not going to be 6 years before they both discover their respective class situation.

At the end of the day, these are schools we are talking about, where we help children become adults. Surely the best education we can give them would be in a realistic setting where not everyone is on the same footing…? And even if we must put up with uniforms, these children are not in the military (yet, praise jebus) and simple guidelines are no justification for accosting and abusing a child for being lax with their adherence to what is, in effect, a meaningless and redundant policy. Suspending a child for wearing too much make-up or too many earrings or colouring their hair or wearing a skirt 2 inches shorter than the guidelines or even just threatening to do so is a crime against their individuality. Children (and people) are not blocks of granite that must be shaped in one way and one way only, they are organic beings who grow in many various and wonderful ways and their individuality should be preserved and encouraged. Let’s be honest here, we are not talking about children running around in school with 60-80% of their skin showing, getting tattooed, pierced, drinking, doing drugs and having underage sex; we’re talking about a slightly unbuttoned shirt, a loose tie, a regulation length skirt on a taller-than-average girl, a simple bit of colouring/dye in someone’s hair…need I go on…?

Get real, Fashion Nazis! And stay the fuck away from our kids; your blind faith in guidelines is a symptom of bad thought processes and we are trying to raise smart, independent kids who think for themselves, not dogmatic Nazis.

Peace, dj357


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