Have you ever thought about how our daughters’ self-esteem and body image could be affected by the school uniforms or dress code policy? Sounds crazy, right? I mean isn’t that the entire purpose of school uniforms in the first place, to level the playing field; to equalize all children and neutralize all social hierarchy? Isn’t a dress code to keep kids comfortable and tidy.
I have daughters, who have to wear school uniforms. There is no option. I thought this was a great idea when we started school but now, I think it’s stifling and worse, I think it’s causing some damage to my tween’s self-esteem and worse, her body image. It’s bad enough that they are not allowed to even look like girls; no ruffles, no frills or even pale pink polish because it might be “distracting” to boys but now we are even making the clothes to fit like a boy. Someone once told me that I should cut my daughters’ hair because they “read somewhere” that long hair is conducive to rape. I said, no why don’t women teach their sons not to be rapists and to respect women and their bodies. Why should my daughter have to look like a boy so your son doesn’t get any ideas? Why do the girls have to be punished?
But how are school uniforms destroying little girls’ body image, you ask?
This year, it has become almost impossible to find anything that fits my child and believe me; I have tried all the stores and all the sizes. I’m frustrated; my poor daughter is beside herself. She had a growth spurt over the summer and suddenly all of her clothes are too short and tight. So, since I don’t want to send my child to school looking all “Hulk Smash” I decided to try to just buy her some bigger clothes. Makes sense, right? WRONG!
You see, I’ve noticed that for the last few years, the girls’ uniform pants that we bought at Children’s Place were made slightly different than boy uniform pants. It was the little details like a little spandex mixed with the cotton so that the pants could bend and mold to a little girl’s body. Also, little girls’ pants were slightly flared for aesthetics and had a cute little ribbon belt. The pants were perfect. My children have been wearing them for years.
But this year, with all the let’s eliminate labels like “boys” and “girls” campaigns being on trend, nothing fits. It’s not my imagination. They have actually stopped making the pants we previously bought and have gone to a more streamlined look, that happen to look exactly like the boys’ pants. Let’s put it this way, my waif like 8 –year-old who almost blows away with a strong gust of wind and typically wears a size 6X/7 had to buy a size 10, in order to fit.
My poor 10-year-old who typically wears a 12 or a 14 depending on the length of the pants, literally, could not find a pair of pants that fit her in the length and waist. Either they swallowed her whole or fit in the waist but were up to her knees or in one particular worst case scenario, we had to try on a size 14 that was tight on her waist and her butt and then we found out it was a mislabeled 10. With tears in her eyes in the dressing room, she looked at me and said, “Mommy, I just want to be normal. I just want pants that fit to wear to school!” I’ve only noticed this in uniforms, but of course, that’s all I’ve shopped for recently.
My heart broke into one million pieces because I saw every single woman that has come before her and every single little girl that will come after her if we don’t do something to change this NOW! There is plenty of time for her to feel like shit about herself because the fashion and style industry do not cater to normal sized women and they surely don’t cater to tall women, who are neither anorexic or plus sized. Our options are crying in the dressing room while trying to either starve ourselves into see thru micro mini everything, wearing muumuus or dressing like a man. Why do we have to dress according to them? And who the f*ck are they anyways?
Isn’t it enough that our daughters are bombarded by images on television and in the media of starving women as our standard of beauty, now my 10-year-old and 8-year-old are being told their bodies are wrong by fucking uniform pants. And by the way, if there was ever proof that the patriarchy is in charge, just look at a school uniform policy. It is made to inflict embarrassment and shatter self-image by making every little girl feel as ugly and plain as possible.
This is my plea, manufacturers and designers of little girls’ school uniforms
Please stop making school uniforms cut to give our elementary school aged girls doubt in themselves and their bodies.
My daughters are perfect and healthy and beautiful and in one shopping trip, fashion has planted a seed of doubt. I saw her face. I know that look…
I didn’t ever want to see that look in her eyes; that partial disgust and doubt of her own body.
It had nothing to do with wanting to be fashionable and every thing to do with just wanting to be normal and wear pants that fit. Why are we allowing the fashion industry to destroy the self-esteem and body image that we have worked so hard to instill in our girls? We pay for these clothes, shouldn’t they be made to fit our bodies not the other way around? The fashion industry works for us.
What are your thoughts on vanity sizing and unisex cuts in girls’ school uniforms?