Uniforms increase conformity rather than concentration

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Commentary Editor/Website News Editor Hailey Stolze

After being forced into Catholic school uniforms basically my entire life, I greatly appreciate my new freedom to express myself.

Now that I go to a school without uniforms, I don’t sit in class and stare down people’s outfits instead of paying attention. If someone is wearing something I like, I tell them, and then go back to work. I wouldn’t be enthralled with their outfit the entire class period, so much that I’m unable to focus on anything I’m supposed to be learning. No. That doesn’t happen.

No matter what “tests” that have apparently shown that uniforms help students focus better, I don’t buy it. I’m getting better grades now than I ever did stuck in knee-high socks and a plaid skirt.

When uniforms are heavily enforced, it places more attention upon the subject of clothing. I remember being called out in class because the length of my socks were a few centimeters too short. I’ve spent too many winter days chattering my teeth, body shivering, instead of listening to what was being taught because the only sweater I had clean wasn’t in uniform.

I admit that uniforms save time in the morning. When you only have one option of what to wear, it’s hard to waste time deciding what to wear. Nevertheless, I’d trade sleeping in a few extra minutes for the ability to express myself any day. Taking pride in how you dress can actually improve your overall mood.

Uniforms teach that there is one acceptable way of dressing, and everything other than that particular way is wrong. As children, parents and teachers drilled into our heads to express ourselves. Evidently those responsible for painting the idea that uniforms somehow help students have drilled around that fact.

And do uniforms actually look that classy? Two days of the week at my grade school we had to wear P.E. clothes the entire day. The outfit consisted of a red shirt, red sweatshirt and either red basketball shorts or red 90’s sweatpants that scrunch at the bottom. We looked like we were prisoners and the school was our jail… And that’s pretty much how it was.

Other than just the appearance of uniforms, no one seems to take into consideration our comfort. Wearing an awkward skirt and an itchy, ill-fitting sweater is Not comfortable.

Wearing the same clothes every day seems like a cost-cutter. But is it really? Doing a load of laundry every night just to have something to wear the next day can get expensive and annoying. Plus, student’s lives do not only consist of going to school. Every year that I wore uniforms I had to not only go back-to-school shopping for the uniforms, I also needed new clothes to wear on the weekends.

Take it from a girl who unwillingly wore the ugliest, horribly boring, uncomfortable Catholic school uniforms every day; Uniforms do not help concentration on anything other than the torture of being confined to the same white polos and black ballet flats every day of my life. It took me 10 years to finally be allowed to wear what I want. Please, don’t take that away from me.