You know what little girls like to do? Cartwheels. Lots of them. Do you know what makes a little girl feel self-conscious about doing a cartwheel? Flashing her knickers in the process. This is why so many schools have adopted a school shorts option for girls in their uniform.
Recently though, a primary school in regional NSW has taken the shorts option for girls out of their uniform policy in what can only be described as irrational and illogical.
This from Fairfax:
“Bathurst Public School recently edited its uniform policy, deleting the summer shorts option for girls and leaving only the tunic. Although unavailable for comment, the school’s Principal, Kate White told the Western Advocate that some girls had become competitive over brand-name shorts and were wearing shorts ‘inappropriately’.”
What does that even MEAN? Inappropriately? Too short? Too long? How does a kid wear a pair of navy shorts inappropriately? And why are girls the only ones being targeted here? Surely it’s not a gender issue but a school policy one? To claim that the girls themselves have become competitive is just ludicrous.
News flash, the kids don’t ACTUALLY go out and buy these garments, their mothers do and instead of eradicating something that allows carefree play, how about simply tightening the rules on the actual brand of short that is allowed. Navy shorts and ‘skorts’ can be sourced through any major department store at a very reasonable price.
More from Fairfax:
“The original copy of the 2013 Parent Information Booklet clearly lists ”navy tailored shorts or navy shorts with school emblem and white polo shirt” as a summer uniform option for girls.
But an edited version shows that option has now been removed, leaving only the ”summer tunic – blue, white and grey checks with navy tie”. Girls are now only allowed to wear shorts during sport”
Surely if a child feels unencumbered by their clothing, they will be free to be kids, to do the things that kids were designed to do. We want our children, both boys and girls, to be active, to climb trees, to do somersaults on the grass, have handstand competitions and to throw themselves into endless cartwheels.
If they have a fear that doing any of these things in their school uniform and environment will expose them in any way, they simply won’t do them. And that would be a terrible shame.
More to the point, why are shorts fine for the boys and not for the girls. Why should it be so gender specific?
Dr Karen Brooks in her book “Consuming Innocence: Popular Culture and our children” I believe, answers this best:
“Boys’ clothes generally, no matter where I looked, tended to be just that: clothes for boys. Sometimes extraordinarily fashionable in terms of brands and style but also practical.
Girls clothes were a completely different story. Not only were they often impractical for play, encouraging adults to discourage girls from running around outside lest they damage the clothes or expose their underwear (reinforcing the stereotype that girls are passive and boys are active), there wasn’t much fabric in them.
The clothing may have been fashionable but who wants fashionable on a child? A self-conscious adult, that’s who — one who consciously or unconsciously feels she or he is in a parenting competition and their child is their trophy.”
Is any school that bans school shorts for girls inadvertently telling them, that as females, they should simply sit and watch from the sidelines because they aren’t appropriately dressed? More troubling is that boys will never be subjected to the same judgement. This to me in 2013, is just complete madness.
Thankfully, the parent’s at Bathurst Primary School aren’t going to accept the newest change in the uniform policy lying down with plans to meet with the school in the near future. Good for them. It’s often tricky and complicated coming up against both a school board and a P & C Association but what matters in the end is that the children have advocates with reasonable requests and common sense.
Does your child’s school have a shorts option for girls? Do you think it really matters?