Uniforms always bothered me but, I had to wear one anyways. From kindergarten right through the middle school to high school, I had to deck myself up in an attire which was considered to be ‘proper’ and ‘rule abiding’ by my school authorities. As a child, uniform fascinates us all (naive kids that we all were once), in fact, it played a major role in propelling us all towards school.But as one grows old, the feeling of being constrained seeps in but, by then, it is too late to protest.
I for one always wanted to know the name of the individual (or, the body of individuals) who decided to deck every school-bound kid in plain garbs called ‘uniforms’. And opportunity came knocking on my door in mid-school. While preparing for a debate, I asked my professor’s view-point towards and the concept behind the big-deal named ‘uniform’.
Yes, to maintain uniformity- I already knew that part, but for some reason, I felt there was more to the concept of uniform than being uniform (or, expunging any prospect of disparity). She gave me an instance which was to stay with me all my life. To loosely quote her- If there were no uniforms, girls would turn up in anything that they want and that would disrupt the law and order of the school.
Yes, that is lame. In fact, that is outright ridiculous. But, this is the first pictorial thought which strikes each one of our minds when one is asked to imagine schools without uniforms. That’s a knee-jerk reaction we all are guilty of. For most, a school without uniforms equals girls without clothes. If you were to charge the speaker of sexism, she (or, he) might blanch at it and add- Well, the guys may turn up with pants heading southwards or, colourful shirts, mismatched socks and a lot more in the name of fashion . But, mind it, the example of a boy in a uniformless world would come in later (much later). The example of young ladies would be the first one to leave each one of our mouths. And I mean ‘our’ and not ‘there’.
But, there is a flip side to that which often skips the attention of uniform lovers and its slappers. If you’ve watched ‘Rio’ you would know what I am talking about- the lead Rio doesn’t know how to fly because he was brought up by a human. He knew of the concept of flying, even tried flying (after reading up the physics of flying), but failed. Why? Well, humans don’t fly and he had spent most of his life with one!
My point is this, if young ladies are not given an opportunity to wear what they want and develop a sense of style, they might (and, do) not know how to present themselves when a uniformless day arrives in each one of their lives. I know, that sounds just as ridiculous as the concept of uniform. But dwell on this- how do most college going girls look like? Identical (generally speaking, that is). But then, that’s a phase, they all want to look attractive which in their still-to-take-a-proper-shape brain spells dress like the most popular chick. That’s there, but then, how do these ladies dress in workplaces, for dates, for funerals and then some? On closer inspection, we all would reach a common conclusion- Most still stick to their identical sense of clothing right through their youth to the years which follows after. Why? Everybody wants to be in the ‘safe zone’ and identical in their minds display ‘safe and secure’.
Oddity guarantees attention, uniformity guarantees none (fruits of uniform). And our patriarchal mindset would take us a step ahead and make us cynically question- Is developing a taste in fashion (clothing-plain or, gorgeous, is encapsulated by the term ‘fashion’) that necessary? Here’s the smack-reply to your not-so-smart question- Clothing like any other surface aspect of any human speaks volumes about a woman (or, a man). Developing it is crucial. Why? Well, only then one would not complaint that the lady doesn’t know how to dress up in a corporate environment. Yes ladies, I advocate dressing according to a situation! Imagine a work place where your male colleagues turn up top-less, snap-less, beary-hairy bod on display, that sounds like a work place right from the era of Adam, right? So, if all the Adam running around the work place makes you go, “ewww”, then please do not dress like Eve. To be precise, cleavage on display, legs being showcased, ‘display’ is not a code of conduct to be followed everywhere.
But, that’s beyond point here- I believe ninety-five percent of the ladies do not know how to dress according to a situation as they are not given occasions to develop crucial analytic skills while growing up. They are given occasions where they are constrained, suppressed and disciplined all in the name of uniformity. They are given uniforms so that the boys in school are not distracted and the girls in school do not run naked. But then, what happens when the shackles of uniforms are loosened? Molestation, rape, a sexist mindset, roving eyes, a mouth ever ready to comment, just because she didn’t ‘dress right’! But, who injected the ‘dress right’ concept in the male psyche? Weren’t they all kids in the beginning – not male and female? Yes, they were. But, here’s what went wrong- the male eyes and sensibilities weren’t trained right and the ladies weren’t trained what to wear where! If the young mind of a boy is shaped to see everything on display and not maul it and lech it, we may be able win half the battle against the crime against women. If young girls are given an opportunity to wear what they want right from their schooling days, they would develop a sense of ‘dress according to the situation’ with proper guidance and counselling. Would that be a solution to every problem that a women faces in a day’s time? Of course not, but that would be a beginning step towards the solution. Uniforms are injecting disuniformity in the society, let’s make do without it!