Dress to Depress

Natalie Petticolas, Staff Writer

Student uniforms have been getting increasingly popular in recent years, which brings the question: what is more important, letting students express themselves through their clothes, or preventing “distractions” by making everyone dress the same? School uniforms take away one of our most basic rights, the right of expression. Studies show that 90 percent of eighth and ninth grade students with a school uniform didn’t like wearing it.

Wearing a school uniform can also damage teens’ self esteem; because they’re wearing the same thing, they constantly compare themselves to other people who “look better” in it. Uniforms are also expensive, and although they’re supposed to remove socioeconomic divisions, they almost emphasize them. What are the people who can’t afford the uniforms supposed to do? Transfer schools?

Those who support school uniforms like to mention how they improve attendance, school spirit, and bullying, but there is no solid evidence for that. Where in one school these rates go down, the other goes up. The rise in school uniform policies is often not promoted by educational interests, and is more promoted by commercial ones. One billion is spent on school uniforms in America every year. J.C. Penny says school uniforms are a “huge, important business for us.”

School uniforms in public schools completely go against the idea of a free education by forcing an extra expense on the parents. Not to mention that choosing your own clothes is a basic thing you do as an adult, and if you haven’t chose your own outfit for months, how are you going to get used to dressing yourself?

Uniforms may also make a student less comfortable in school, which definitely doesn’t help their grades like uniforms are supposed to. Many school uniforms have itchy fabrics or don’t come with coats, and often require girls to wear skirts and dresses. Many in favor of school uniforms argue that it helps limit bullying because kids can’t be judged based on their clothes, but clothes are only a small portion of reasons students get bullied.

Students aren’t always bullied for their appearance. That is one source of bullying, but often kids are bullied for their behavior. Maybe they like different shows or have some eccentric interests. There are a million reasons for kids to pick on other kids that have nothing to do with clothes, and uniforms do nothing to change that.

Uniforms can also stunt a student’s ability to deal with people who are different from them; because outside of school, there are going to be a lot of people who look different from someone else. People in favor of school uniforms seem to be under the impression that school uniforms will magically erase bullying and cliques, and that everyone will hold hands and sing kumbaya.

Uniforms teach kids that conformity is the only way to get along with people, and generally make kids even more unhappy to go to school, as if school isn’t miserable enough, not to mention the arguments that uniforms will keep dress code issues at bay. First of all, i feel that dress codes in general are incredibly biased and target girls unfairly. When you pull a girl out of class to complain about exposed shoulders, you are telling her that it’s her responsibility to keep boys under control. Uniforms are used as a band-aid solution for issues that can be solved in other ways.