Imagine a world of black and white, maybe a touch of gray. What a sad, miserable world that must be. Well, imagine no more; all you have to do is look around your school halls! School uniforms have always been a topic of controversy, a constant battle between students and the authority. This hasn’t been too big a problem in our school, but I have recently started noticing the different ways this, along with a bunch of other rules, has taken a toll on our individuality.
The first and most obvious effect of uniforms on a student is the conformity that comes with it. While schools in principle encourage and appreciate diversity, forcing students to conform to a uniform sends a contradicting message. We learn about great figures in history like Rosa Parks and Malala Yousafzai, and the way such people were able to surmount all obstacles by taking a stand and daring to express themselves. Meanwhile we, students, are stripped of that right every day, which greatly diminishes the possibility of seeing the next great trendsetter, activist, or even artist emerge from underneath that black and white uniform.
While I could understand how a uniform makes a point about unity and belonging among JM-ers, what baffles me are the subtle, seemingly unimportant rules that make all the difference. Some simple examples include the prohibition of nail polish and piercing, and the famous “shave your beards on Mondays and Thursdays” mandate. How does nail polish harm the school image, its sophistication, reputation, other students… ourselves? When it comes to piercings, having a student come to school every day with a band-aid covering the side of her/his face is deemed more acceptable than a small little eyebrow ring, right? Wrong. Not only is such a rule discouraging students from reflecting their true self, it is also bashing their self-esteem by conveying an underlying “your piercing is too unsightly” message.
We get that some teenage trends might get out of control, and that some limits must be put out to contain this possibility, but allowing students to make their own choices about hair length, nail polish, and shoe color even, empowers these students and makes them believe that they are maturing young adults, who are entitled to the most basic self-determination and expression, and who are capable of making their own choices. Come senior year, we are expected to make the biggest decisions of our lives when only a few months back we were told what to wear, where to sit, and who to be.
The environment that a teenager grows in says a lot about the person he or she will grow to be. And although the educational and religious factors are guaranteed in ours, the creative, out of the box independent thinking training is lacking. As a result, our personalities are misshapen by all the rules that we are forced to conform to.