Pros, cons of school uniforms

Any issue about parenting will drive many, even if they are not yet or no longer parents, hot under the collar. One interesting and provocative issue is of education, which seems to be an especially fiery and varied debate.

This opinion does not concern itself with the typical problems that most think of when discussing the issue: think budget, nutrition, staff or the like. 

Rather, it has to do with school attire and the personal expression, yet bullying, that they can invoke.

Growing up as a very poor, disadvantaged and underprivileged child myself, I did not have the luxury of having nice, new clothes all the time, let alone for a new school year. I can still remember up through high school the dread, stress and anxiety that would overwhelm me those last couple weeks of summer break before the academic year started. 

With the ushering in of a new year, there were always the standard necessities to purchase for success: pencils, paper, a backpack, pens and, to my dismay, clothes. 

I was lucky if I got the pens. 

This is not meant to be a plight of my earlier existence. I do not feel sorry for myself and ask no one’s pity. This is simply setting the stage for what this piece is going to expound: the idea of school attire either making or breaking you.

Clothes and fashion are amazing things. They boost your self-confidence and allow for unbridled and uninhibited personal artistic expression, which is good for the soul. 

Yet, they can also hinder self-confidence and lead to unfortunate things like bullying, especially in a school setting. 

We judge people by appearances because we are creatures of sight. There is no doubt that, while personal artistic expression is important, so is the welfare and well-being of youngsters. Hand-me-downs were a regular staple in my wardrobe — clothes outdated by the time they outgrew my sister and made their way to me, and I was endlessly teased for it. I had a friend that attended a magnet school where the clothing was a sea of green skirts or khaki pants, brown or black shoes, and a green or white collard T-shirt. She was as poor as I, and yet, was never in tears because of her clothing like her friend was.

It is a complicated situation, both egalitarian and restricting. Obviously, people cannot control others’ finances and, also unfortunate, parents can’t be around their children every second of the school day to reprimand their children for saying grotesque and humiliating things to others for having “uncool” shoes and clothes. 

I am not expressing an opinion either way, just expressing the good and the bad of the issue. But personally, I would have sacrificed personal artistic expression for the sake of having friends and the respect of my peers, which should not come from the clothes others wear; but hey, creatures of sight, right?