‘My daughter gets a letter home from school every single day because of what she wears.'

There's an age-old debate about school uniforms here in Australia. It's not about whether we should still have them or go non-uniform — rather, it's all about how female students wear their uniforms. 

Well, it's kicked off yet again, and a lot of students and parents are feeling the mental load associated.

Recently, a concerned parent whose daughter attends a Catholic school in NSW reached out to Mamamia with a letter that was sent to all parents from the school's principal.

The school suggested the female students needed to dress more modestly to ensure "a safer and respectful learning environment". 

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"It has come to our attention yet again that a number of girls have been rolling their skirts up to an unacceptable length. Furthermore, there's a concerning trend emerging where some girls are rolling up their sports shorts excessively, resulting in a tight fit that is unflattering both in the front and the rear," it read.

Note the reference to "unflattering". Also, as if the length of a girl's uniform skirt will improve her "wellbeing" or "safety".


The response to the story was diverse. Some were frustrated these same conversations were taking place decade upon decade, others believed school uniform rules should be abided by, no matter what. But what everyone agreed on was the delivery of enforcing such rules — when the communication style verges on misogyny. 

Girls' school uniform horror stories.

We spoke to a series of parents and former students about their experiences, and many were seriously uncomfortable and handled poorly. 

One parent said she was shocked to hear the above story wasn't about her own daughter's Catholic school, as very similar situations have occurred.

"The day before International Women's Day this year, all female students were called out of class, and the deputy principal marched up and down the cohort with a megaphone, belittling them all about their shorts being rolled. For context their shorts are unisex and very long, designed likely for tall boys who play basketball. So rolling them up makes them easier to move in," this parent tells Mamamia.

"The female students were also chastised for their 'false eyelashes', actually their eyelash extensions. The deputy principal called the girls 'Muppets from Sesame Street', describing their shorts as 'unflattering' and 'disgusting'. She even had the audacity to tell the girls 'Who do you think you are holding yourselves so highly.'"

When this parent reported her concerns about the deputy principal's choice of communication, no apology was issued. Other parents complained too, but they were gaslighted and told their children had lied about what happened.


Another parent said her daughter's public school continues to line up the teenage girls and check if their skirts come below their finger tips.

"Interesting that when all the boys were wearing tiny stubbies and footy shorts in the '90s there was no issue. It's a misguided attempt at addressing some actual issues of inappropriate clothing at an individual level at best and pure misogyny from the leadership at worst," she noted. 

One mum says her daughter gets a letter sent home every single day, all because she chooses to wear shorts to school. Her daughter opts not to wear the school shorts, as there isn't a set of shorts available to the female students. It's frustrating, says this mum, that her daughter can't wear clothes that are comfortable all because it makes other people uncomfortable.

Another example from a parent focused on makeup.

"Yes, it is uniform policy at my daughter's school not to wear makeup. But think about the unrealistic beauty standards put upon women and girls. There is an undeniable pressure to cover up a pimple with a bit of concealer, or to even use a bit of eyebrow gel to 'tame' the brows," she tells Mamamia

"My daughter wore a very natural concealer on parts across her face because she was breaking out terribly. She went to school, and there was a random face wipe spot test done by the year advisor upon the girls in the classroom. My daughter described it as one of the more traumatic moments of her schooling. The boys at lunch then made fun of her.


"Until we have school environments where boys know it's not okay to comment on a girl's appearance in a derogatory manner, then these unrealistic and archaic rules that are directed towards female students only should be tossed out."

Last but certainly not least, a former student shared with us a rather disturbing experience she had in Year 9.

"I went to a private co-ed school in the suburbs. I naturally have large breasts and developed them early. I was sexualised from such a young age from those around me, including some of the school staff sadly," she notes.

"I was wearing the school dress that was the right size for me length-wise, but across my chest it was a little tight. Nothing extreme though. Plus, I had sized up one size already when my mum purchased the uniform, so I had tried my best to mitigate 'the issue'. 

"I'll never forget the day one of my teachers pulled me out of class and said 'Your dress is inappropriate, you need to put those away,' she said while pointing to my chest (which was completely covered). It was humiliating, but now it just makes me angry to think about. The sh*t we as women have to put up with, even in educational environments."

Have you ever experienced something similar? How do you feel about this topic? Feel free to share with us in the comments below.

Feature Image: Getty.