It’s six A.M. on a Monday morning, and, in between brushing your hair and eating breakfast, you’re frantically trying to find the sweater that completes the required school uniform for the day. Then, it hits you. You forgot to put it in the wash the other day because you were so somnolent from studying for that huge test and knocked out on your bed as soon as you were finished. Realizing this, you defeatedly leave the house without the sweater, dreading the embarrassment of being different from everyone else at school and wishing you could go back to the days when you could just throw on a random sweater and be on your way.
This plot is played out everyday by students around the world who are confined by required school uniforms. As seen in the prior scenario, school uniforms should not be used as they add an unnecessary burden to students’ already stressful school commitments and reinforce thoughts that being unique is a negative trait. The bolsterment of a homogeneous environment is the exact opposite of what society tries to teach its youth today: to be proud of diversity and respect diversity.
Not only do school uniforms undermine positive diversity, but they also squash subtle, but fundamental, forms of individuality. Teenagers in particular are famous for needing to express their emotions and their tastes in music, fashion and art through clothing, hair and piercings. School can be tough on kids and teens as it is, without taking away one of the few areas where they can exert some control and express themselves.
Now, I used to be reluctant to oppose school uniforms. I thought for sure that they must serve some sort of purpose. After much consideration, however, I have found that although they may be believed to have a purpose, the realistic effect is much lesser. For example, some may point to team jerseys used in sports as a comparable reason to enforce school uniforms. After all, don’t jerseys in sports work so effectively? Sure, they do, but not by necessarily instilling a sense of community in the way that proponents of school uniforms claim. While there is a minimal bond felt by members on sports teams caused by uniforms, most of the bonds made between players is from spending time together- not simply because of a few pieces of cloth. In fact, the most effective use of a sports jersey is to simply allow people to tell the difference between the teams so that the game can actually be played. More so, most sports teams with members our age don’t even practice in uniforms, just as we may come to school everyday in simple clothing but dress up for special events like graduation.
Beyond this, school uniforms can be colossal financial impositions on students’ families. School uniforms add a cost to what is supposedly a “free education” in public schools. Most children need multiple school uniforms in order to make it through one week. On top of that, the need to replace articles of clothing in the future can be expected. Additionally, a limited number of suppliers sell uniforms, so there is a lack of competition within the market, keeping prices high. Many families might struggle to afford this additional cost and oppose it because the clothes can only be worn for one occasion. Divides in socioeconomic statuses within schools may actually become more apparent with the application of school uniforms because of this high cost. While some students may be able to afford to own multiple outfits and repurchase items when something gets worn out, others may be forced to continue to wear the same tattered uniforms, emphasizing differences in income. This may isolate students and create a setting where certain kids feel less confident. Without school uniforms, students with families of lesser income can more easily blend in. In reality, without school uniforms, the status of each students standard of living is hardly ever thought about.
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