I am very opposed to uniforms.
Mostly I am against the theory. Do we want our children to be conformists or to “think outside of the box”? Innovation and leadership are major American values, and I don’t think that school uniforms promote those. Yes, with free expression you will sometimes get things you don’t like. But, if we want people to think for themselves, that is the risk we take. And considering the limited amounts of self expression that children and teenagers get, I think we can afford to give them this little thing. For some kids, dressing outrageously is a very mild and non-permanent form of rebellion. I would much rather see them express rebellion in clothing instead of action.
That said, there are practical reasons as well. Our bodies are all different, and we choose our clothes to fit our bodies. For example, even with industrial strength anti-presperent, I sweat like mad. So I wear almost exclusivly tank tops that won’t show a big circle of sweat all the time. When I am cold I cover up with a sweater that is think enough not to let sweat soak through. If I had to wear, say, a white button down shirt with sleeves, I would be laughed at to no end because of my sweatiness. And my hips and legs are somewhat out of porportion, so that traditional pants are not comfortable. I remedy that by wearing straight-legged pants. But I dont think they make straight-legged school uniforms. Why should we punish people whoes bodies ar a little different here and there by not letting them choose clothes that work for them individually?
Many of the arguments for school uniforms are flawed.
People say they reduce crime. If you think that clothing causes crime, you are very naive. Crime is caused by a variety of social and economic factors. Clothing may rarely instigate crime, but it doesnt cause crime. And changeing that clothing isnt going to make the crime magically disappear. Even if gang affiliations cant be made by clothing, a way will be found to display gang identity. No one is going to day “I can’t wear my red bandana? I guess I’ll just give up”. In absence of clothing idicators, people will just turn to hair style, way of walking, gang signs and other ways to tell.
People say they reduce the humiliation of being poor. The biggest thing on poor children’s minds isn’t what they are wearing. And schools in most places, except for some cities, have children from the same general economic backgrounds, anyway. That said, there are plenty of ways for kids to know who is rich and who is poor. Rich kids can afford perms, nice shoes, better backpacks, more expensive birthday parties, cars, and other things that we can’t eliminate. Uniforms can’t make the gap between rich and poor go away, and it can’t even hide it effectively! And while uniforms may be cheaper for some people. They are more expensive for the truely poor. The truely poor will have to buy expensive uniforms instead of being able to use hand-me-downs, thrift stores, and discout stores.
People say they are make life easier. Since when is it better to live an easy life through less choices? If you can’t decide what to wear in the morning, what are you going to do when you have to make real decisions in life? And if you really do want a simplified wardrobe, you are perfectly free to have one. If you can’t forgo a fashionable wardrobe to one you prefer without making everyone else do it too, you have a long ways to go.