Desperate English Housewife in Washington, chapter 572

School uniforms in the USA?

Nah, this isn’t going to happen in public schools (that’s regular state schools to us Brits, not posh wotnot schools) in the USA.

But…maybe it should. My American friend’s teenage daughter has been through an ordeal in her American middle school because of what she was wearing. And it wasn’t tarty, saucy or provocative in any way shape or form. And yet she’s been pulled aside by the school admin who think what she wore – or rather ‘how’ she wore it – was inappropriate.

This is my friend’s blog post about the incident. It’s an interesting read, and very frustrating too. I’d definitely welcome Brit and American thoughts on the benefits of wearing school uniform – I understand that this could happen with a uniform shirt too, of course. I’m not one for uniforms per se, because I like to express my personality with my clothes, and even when I did have a school uniform I managed to hitch up my skirt an inch and sometimes rolled my socks down, which was expressly forbidden at my school.

But that teenage rebellion aside, this is a story about what a particular American teenage girl has been through, and it’s more a story focusing on women who do this kind of body shaming to young women/girls. Why I find it interesting is that this discussion has happened in the UK to some extent when kids have disobeyed school uniform rules, but perhaps not to this degree within this very American remit of non-uniformed attire and the impact this can have in many ways on the kids. I welcome your thoughts!

School uniforms UK style

School uniforms UK style

These are some of the messages of support to my friend and her daughter:

  • At school there are so many other issues to get concerned about for the kids and for the kids to be worried about. I had my arms covered on national TV here in the USA because they were worried they would offend middle America during the daytime. They are arms ffs. I would suggest that the woman (?) who is harassing her actually has body issues herself (we all do but some are more extreme) and that she has issues with teenage girls and their bodies because of it. Ergo, the problem is not with your daughter. #womenbefree
  •  Your anger and outrage are completely justifiable. I hope that it can somehow launch a real, open discussion with the young women and men in the room who are bombarded with mixed, damaging messages. Judgment and shaming have to be taken out of the enforcement measures.
  • I’ll weigh in again and echo what I said yesterday and what some have said here: it seems highly subjective, which makes it a detriment and not enforceable or useful in any meaningful way.

    Didn’t you say she’s worn the top previously and not been rep
    rimanded? Why is this a focus when clearly the top was not worn with an intent to flaunt the rules? That subjectivity along with the way it was handled (in front of peers, pulling in another administrator for “back-up”) worries me on several levels. Self esteem is a big deal for middle school students (okay, it’s a big deal for many people regardless of age), and how this was handled does everything about making her question her clothes and body and little about objectivity, learning, education and being role models for youth.

    When did our youth become so unable to exercise self-control that having one’s shirt ride up becomes cause for such a response? THAT troubles me, too. Perhaps they should focus on teaching those distracted to focus on schoolwork and that it’s no business of theirs what others wear.

    Not everyone dresses like the Mean Girls

    Not everyone dresses like the Mean Girls

    Harry will be wearing school uniform next year back in the UK, and to be honest I can’t wait – sooooo much easier!

British at the Oscars!

What a great night for the Brits at the Oscars! From Benedict Cumberbatch sneaking in his hip flask (whisky I’m guessing) and mouthing ‘go away’ at the cameras; to the chaps who referred to the Oscars as ‘big buggers’ (we Brits swear so eloquently!); to Eddie Redmayne looking all suave and sophisticated, plus many others, it was a great night for the Brits!

What a cheeky chap!

What a cheeky chap!

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5 Responses to Desperate English Housewife in Washington, chapter 572

  1. Candice says:

    Thanks for sharing that story, it is truly unbelievable.

  2. VictoriaK says:

    I. So. Do. Not. Miss. Nanny State. America. As a parent I give my teenage daughter the, “I see London, I see France…” glance each morning and advise her if perchance a piece of clothing no longer fits properly; she also knows what is expected of her. That is our job as her parents. (We held our now-university level son to the same standard, for those wondering.) There is a dress code, yes, at our international school, but the real focus at the school is where it should be–on empowering the next generation in mind and body, including how to present oneself in the “real world.” That is where many American public schools miss the mark.

    I survived eight years of Catholic school uniforms, the likes of which did not stop “those girls” from rolling their skirt waistbands up during recess to show a little “above the knee” skin. Slut shaming is managed within peer groups for the girls and always will be, and the boys likewise deal with one another. This is life.

  3. EmmaK says:

    The woman who chastized that girl when her top rode up must have a screw loose. My daughter says you are told to change into your gym uniform for dress infractions like swearwords on T-shirt , short skirt, low cut top but not if sweater rides up.

  4. Mindy Helms says:

    As I said elsewhere, pathetic. Really!

  5. Our first criteria was a school in the US that had a uniform. It’s hardly a uniform (you get to choose different school-issued coloured polos) and you get to wear black jeans or a uniform skirt but it’s the closest we’ll get to a uniform here in the West Coast so I love it. If the cars the juniors and seniors drive to and from school are anything to go by they need a uniform! Of all the countries in the world I have no idea why America wouldn’t be the one to insist on and enforce a uniform rather than not have one. Regardless there is enough to worry about at school without putting the “what am I going to wear today and will it be OK” pressure on them. <>

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