Asinine assumptions of the outer kind

Posted by: Cath Jenkin | Date: May 19, 2014 | 4 Comments

The concept of school uniforms has always bewildered me. I went to an all-girls high school and, the only time I ever received detention was because I rolled my socks the wrong way too many times.

A mildly rebellious indiscretion on my part, especially considering the kind of uphill I regularly gave my teachers and headmistress (who is, quite probably, reading this. I’m sorry Mrs L, I know I was not always the most pleasant person). The experience has always stuck with me.

I’ve never believed that the length of my skirt, or the roll of my socks, affected my purpose or task for the day. Similarly, I’ve never been able to understand why someone in a suit seems to garner more respect than the mom in sweatpants who is running between soccer games.

Now that I have a child in school, I do see the point of school uniforms, as they can imbue a sense of almost-patriotism and community into school pupils. I can understand the thinking behind them, but, sometimes, I question the traditions of them. I mean, who on Earth puts their kids into thick, woolly, knee-high socks in 35-degree weather? Schools do! School children are actively disciplined for not adhering to school uniform rules and traditions, even though I absolutely cannot find any evidence to suggest that what someone wears has a direct effect on their academic achievements.

In a more adult realm though, I can still see the judgment calls being made, based on what people wear, and not just in the workplace. I have to ask — does Sarah Millican’s outfit affect her ability as a comedian? Did the dress she wore to the Baftas make her less talented? Of course not. Worse still, why are women scrutinised more under the glare of the camera, than men? That’s an entirely different conversation for another day, I realise …

Similarly, when Gabourey Sidibe issued a snappy comeback to a bunch of online bullies, why did so many of us feel the need to applaud her? I like to think it’s because we inherently understand that she’s a phenomenal actress, and that her talent is not found in the folds of some designer dress.

In essence, how we roll our socks does not matter. At the very core of someone’s life or work, does it matter if they were wearing Prada or their pyjamas?

No, it doesn’t. So, why then, is so much attention paid to what celebrities are wearing when they’re doing their jobs? Even more importantly, to a non-celebrity, relatively “normal” person like me — why on Earth should I be telling my daughter that folding her socks the right way is important? Will it make her understand mathematical concepts better?

Beyond the standard life rules of “be as neat as possible” when you leave the house, how else can I equate the idea of a uniform with a task? If this connection were entirely solid, then our most-loved authors in the world need to be donning suits and ball gowns every day when they write. I’m willing to bet, they don’t.

* Written whilst wearing my pyjamas.

Image – Gabourey Sidibe attends the Life Partners premiere during the 2014 Tribeca Film Festival on April 18, 2014, in New York. (AFP)


  • Tyrone

    I enjoyed reading this.

    I used to hate school uniforms.

    I currently work at an ad agency, meaning that I can pretty much wear whatever I want to work – the only rule is to look presentable when meeting with clients, so those days I do make sure to put on a shirt 😉

    School uniforms irritated me but I actually thank God I didn’t have to wear civies every day – I don’t/didn’t have as many clothes (new, rad, cool, in, trendy, fresh, branded) as most of the other kids, so the uniform actually protected me.

    With regard to why we pay so much attention to what celebrities are wearing, I believe that is due to the fact that magazines and television shows RARELY actually document anything (provide an opinion/insight) and MOSTLY actually try to SELL you (their audiences) stuff. Considering magazines, they seem to survive by advertising fashion brands, so it makes sense (in a nonsense kinda of way) that their content/features will then talk up fashion, so as to make it seem relevant, otherwise their entire publication would look like a joke (imagine a women’s magazine with all the content it usually has but all the ads were advertising cars/food/medical aids schemes, etc (anything but clothing, perfume, accessories and cosmetics).

    That said, these magazines shouldn’t refer to their buyers as ‘readers’ nor their ‘audience’. To the magazines themselves, these people, the people who buy them, are consumers – consumers who buy their magazine to find out what else they can(and mostly cannot – think ‘aspirational’) buy. Doesn’t every woman (from age 14 and up) already know ALL the ‘secret’ sex tips? Haven’t they all already seen and read about most of the breaking gossip on the internet already? (besides, on the internet, stories get updated frequently – what’s written in magazines is already old before it hits the shelf). So, why do the people who buy these mags buy these mags?

    (What’s crazy is when these mags have features on how to save money – LOL – first step: Stop buying this magazine!!!) (They never give that tip though, so yeah, you can tell that everything they say is true, ‘expert’ advice.)

    I think that the people who pay attention to what celebrities wear do so because they are continually being forced to find value in the things they don’t have and don’t need rather than being reminded to appreciate and feel great about everything that they already do have and/or is free and all around them.

    Anyway, I think I’ve said enough, for now. What I really wanted to share was this:


    • Cath

      Shoo – thanks for this comment Tyrone and an interesting read!

      I get you on the “civvies in school” front. It is a minefield!

      As for celebrity magazines, I often want to roll my eyes skyward…

      When you said:

      “I think that the people who pay attention to what celebrities wear do so because they are continually being forced to find value in the things they don’t have and don’t need rather than being reminded to appreciate and feel great about everything that they already do have and/or is free and all around them”

      I wanted to applaud you. So, I applaud you!

      Thanks for reading :)

      • Tyrone

        Thanks Cath :)

        Keep writing! 😀

        • Cath

          I promise I will :)