all my heroes are weirdos

We're All Mad Here

Uniforms & Unicorns

Some people love the ease of not having to think in the morning, the fact that they can blend into the crowd and others can feel a sense of importance or authority or purpose.

Uniforms save time, save effort and I guess if you’d prefer to tiptoe your way along the catwalk of life, then a uniform is for you.

I wouldn’t say I’m overly ostentatious, and I actually get quite shy and nervous when all eyes are on me, but I don’t love rules, I don’t love conformity and I’d like to be able to parade my way through this lifetime expressing myself however the hell I want.

For me, not being able to express your personality on the outside can feel like your character is being strangled and can destroy one of the most gratifying morning joys; standing in front of my colour-coordinated wardrobes and picking out who I want to be that day.

At least that’s what I thought until I read this article, our latest submission to Mindless Mag from a head teacher in Kuala Lumpur.

Dress Code

I hated my school uniform.

Polyester navy skirt ‘at least 2 inches below the knee’ that was neither straight nor A- line; prison-blue shirt that gaped open at the chest no matter how many sizes up you went; bulky, formless jumper; heels no more than 2 inches high, which Mrs Wilson would measure with a ruler if there was any doubt; finished off with a thick, boxy (not in the Chanel sense) wool blazer that smelt like dead sheep when it got wet. 

It wasn’t flattering on anyone. On me, it was disastrous. 

I wasn’t the most conventionally attractive of teenagers… in fact, forget the ‘conventional’. I was short, chubby, had bad skin and a severe, bluntly finished bob, in thick bushy hair which I used to ‘style’ with one of those god-awful comb hairbands that went out with snapbands and never came back; it made my hair stick up around my face in an arrangement I thought was feathering akin to ‘the Rachel’. It wasn’t. 

I could still be described as all of those things, minus the dodgy hairband, but my grooming skills have developed somewhat since. And having read back over that last paragraph, I’m making a mental note for a future article on how women talk about their appearance and how this teaches younger women to hate themselves. We’re all guilty.  

Anyway, it was only when I became a teacher that I learned to love uniform. I worked in rough schools; the sort where kids openly tell their teachers to ‘get lost’ only they don’t say ‘get’ or ‘lost’. Working in schools with vast socio-economic differences between the students, where kids could be incredibly cruel, I became a staunch uniform advocate. 

Why? It’s the ultimate leveller. 

No one’s clothes are more expensive than anyone else’s. No one’s clothes are more fashionable than anyone else’s. They are all the same. It creates a sense of togetherness, rather than reinforcing a social hierarchy or class system which supposedly no longer exists. 

It also has a hugely positive impact on behaviour; if you’re at your door asking students to tuck their shirts in before they enter your classroom, they’re far less likely to push the boundaries any further. Thus dramatically increasing the likelihood that learning will take place, as opposed to chairs being thrown and students trying to escape via a second floor window (true story). 

Read more here at Mindless Mag.

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