Your headline reading “Parents unhappy with uniform vote” was misleading and causes one to wonder if it were not intentional. Regardless, some parents are indeed unhappy, but many are not.
I was given a survey during parent/teacher conferences this year and I recall hearing about at least one other survey on the subject in past years. I completed my survey strongly in favor of a uniform policy.
One consistently pressing issue for youth has been the unfortunate role that brands and style play in the way they are treated by their friends. Rather than being treated and judged by who they are, often teens are judged by what they wear. We all know this happens; it is nothing new.
In fact, the marketing of brands to preteens and teens is a billion dollar industry and has been around since 1941 when Madison Avenue actually coined the term “teenager.” Today it is far more intense as young people in the U.S. have more disposable income than their counterparts in any other country at any other time in history.
In her book, “Branded: The Buying and Selling of Teenagers,” Alissa Quart notes: “Today’s teens are victims of the contemporary luxury economy. They have grown up in the age of the brand, bombarded and defined by name products and intrusive and clever advertising strategies. Raised by a commodity culture from the cradle, teens dependably fragile self-images and their need to belong to groups are perfect qualities for advertisers to exploit.”
We also know that the cruelty of persons toward those who don’t completely fit in can be intense. Some youth have a difficult time coping with such cruelty. Some suffer from serious depression as a result or display anti-social behavior.
School uniforms are not a cure-all for behavioral problems, to be sure. But it is a simple way to eliminate one reason for a child to ridicule another.
Moreover, what is the harm here?
Our kids will not be scarred by such a dress code. There is really no disadvantage to this policy at all. It can only help, and if it doesn’t, it certainly won’t hurt. There are those who reason that such a code thwarts freedom of expression or individuality.
It is sad to me that what we wear has become such an important part of self-expression in our society. So much so, that we would think a stricter dress code stifles our children’s ability to communicate their uniqueness.
The irony, however, is that name brands and fashions demand more conformity than do school uniforms — because if you don’t conform to current fashion trends, you may be outcast.