The debate over whether or not children should be required to wear school uniforms isn’t as heated as other more-pressing issues out there, but this article is nevertheless intended to enlighten readers as to why many parents feel this should not be mandatory.
First and foremost, individuality allows one to practice self-expression, and this is an extremely important virtue. Forcing students; especially those who have reached high school age, to wear uniforms, is a total and complete contradiction to such values. This is not to say that our kids should be allowed to show up at school in revealing clothing such as bare midriffs, short shorts, unbuttoned shirts, or any garment that has vulgar, offensive slogans, because this would likewise be inappropriate attire. However, uniforms symbolize a philosophy that is long outdated. Public schools are not military academies or 19th-century boarding schools. Even many Catholic schools have abandoned uniforms. And as an aside, how many nuns do you see that still wear habits?
In short, school uniforms serve as an archaic relic of a stuffy era that has long passed. In the United States, kids want to be themselves, not a product of some rigid, outdated rule of conformity. Even outside the realm defined as school, workplaces are finally beginning to loosen up in regard to dress codes. In this author’s opinion, they still have a long way to go, but at least there are many places now where employees can wear jeans, sneakers, and T-shirts.
Another primary reason you’ll see parents object to school uniforms stems from the fact that those of us who have children have been thinking younger for the past 40 years or so. If a man in his early 50s detests wearing a suit and tie, it’s probably because he wore ripped jeans and Led Zeppelin T-shirts while he attended school. Similarly, a woman of the same age today could have a pierced nose and a couple of tattoos. In either case, this will be far more common now because the once-youthful segment of the population that grew up with rock and roll is getting older. Thus, it can practically go unsaid that neither of these hypothetical parents are going to go along with forcing their kids to wear uniforms while in school!
One could argue that at times and with certain occupations, uniforms, or at least some sort of identifying clothing indeed serves a purpose. For example, if you can’t find baking soda or distilled vinegar at the grocery store, you hunt down someone wearing a store smock, right? But in school, kids have a hard enough time trying to be cool as it is. By adolescence in particular, they want to impress the opposite sex by wearing the latest clothing and hair styles just as we did in our day. As parents opposed to mandatory school uniforms, we are understanding of this concept.
Yes, another argument in favor of school uniforms is that everyone would be equal, and at the same time, the expense of designer clothes would be eliminated. Well, robot-like conformity simply won’t fly with most of our youth, and for parents who can’t afford to buy their kids the latest designer fashions, there are plenty of knock-off brands that look almost exactly the same at a fraction of the price.
Individuality and self-expression are traits that should be celebrated. Uniforms? They rob anyone of that opportunity.