“It helps to get up in the morning and not have to think about what you’re going to wear,” said Maria, a ninth-grader who swims, plays soccer, and wears exactly what everybody else does at her high school in Washington, DC. Each school day, Maria dons an all-white oxford shirt, brown shoes, and a gray/maroon plaid skirt that has to be long enough to the touch the ground when she kneels. After school and on weekends, of course, all bets are off. Maria has a simple yet effective strategy: she borrows her friends’ clothes, typically baggy jeans.
While schools should be about letting students express themselves and discover who they are, this process goes far beyond just one's clothing. Expression is often more internal than it is external. Therefore, what should be raised in school uniform debates is that clothing can work to stifle a student's individualism by letting them rely on their outward appearance too heavily. Having a uniform can be viewed positively in the case for self-expression in that students can then express themselves in other ways. Not needing to worry about what to wear everyday and in turn this could result in avoiding pointless fashion trends which are often more conformist rather than individualistic.