Page 1 of 1

Appearance policing in schools

Posted: 2019-09-01, 6:07
by md0
After reading this morning's news, I become curious about this: how restrictive or lax are schools in your country when it comes to policing how students look like.

I was reading this headline about the new additions to the catalogue of banned hairstyles and accessories in Cypriot secondary public schools. They are:
Boys: beards, goatees, mustaches, and ponytails (with the journalist here using scare ellipses to make ponytails look as weird and unexpected)
Girls: leggings, tight trousers, makeup, flashy hair highlights, makeup, long dyed nails, and fake eyelashes (again with scare ellipses)

When I was in highschool, I was in constant trouble about my facial hair. I also had a classmate who was half Irish and she was constantly given warnings about her natural hair colour.
I had a booklet from my highschool with 5 or 6 pages of banned looks and accessories, shame I didn't keep it.

Re: Appearance policing in schools

Posted: 2019-09-01, 11:46
by Luís
Cyprus is one weird place, I'll tell you what.

There's no dress code in public schools around here, AFAIK. Private schools might have some rules (some of them require uniforms) but I don't think any of them go as far as banning facial hair(!?) or long nails...

Re: Appearance policing in schools

Posted: 2019-09-01, 12:10
by Saim
I went to a public high school in Australia and we had strict uniforms. Once I got detention for wearing black socks, another time I got told off for wearing my jumper backwards (it was cold and it covered my chest better that way). Once the school tried to ban hugging (specifically between girls and boys IIRC), there were announcements on it for a couple of weeks but nothing came of it in the end.

I don’t remember anyone having problems with hair or makeup.

Re: Appearance policing in schools

Posted: 2019-09-01, 12:26
by Antea
I don’t remember nothing like this here. At one point, though, there was a debate about the fashion of teen girls wearing visible strings (tanga) above waist trousers. They were visible because the fashion was to wear them with low waist jeans. People said that maybe teen girls weren’t aware of the sexualised message it implied to wear this in a classroom. I am not sure if it was finally banned because I was no longer at school at that moment.

Re: Appearance policing in schools

Posted: 2019-09-01, 15:23
by Naava
We didn't really have any dress code policies. The recommendations we had were given because we didn't really care about our health... :whistle: I think these "rules" are the same in every Finnish school. We don't really have private schools, and no school that I know of has a uniform, so we're allowed to dress quite freely all in all.

My school (ages 7-12) either forbid or gave a strong recommendation to avoid shirts that exposed your stomach, mostly because kids wore those even in winter because ~fashion~.
They also required us to wear a woolly hat and mittens in winter and a helmet when biking. I believe they would've also made us wear parkas or something like that if there had been any problems with that, but since it was only the woolly hats that were so uncool, there was no need for rules about jackets/coats/etc. (FYI Finnish schools typically have ~45 min lessons and after each lesson there's a mandatory 5-15 minute break where you must go out. We were allowed to stay indoors during the break after lunch, which was 20 minutes, but only if it was an exceptionally cold day. I don't remember the temperature limit, but I think it was -20...-25C. We still had to go out during the shorter breaks, though.)

Oh, and we also had to take our outdoor shoes off before entering the classroom and wear indoor shoes of our choice instead. I think the indoor shoes were because they were afraid our socks were slippery and we could hurt ourselves.

The teachers also asked us to take off one of our shirts/hoodie if we hadn't worn a jacket during the break because they said we'd feel too hot indoors otherwise. I guess it could be true, sometimes people thought it was too warm for jackets when it was still ten degrees colder outdoors than indoors. If you don't remove any layers, the classroom might feel hot after spending ten minutes outdoors, especially if you had been as active as kids tend to be. Although tjey didn't really care if we had been active or not! But they didn't say anything if the temperature was (nearly) the same indoors and outdoors.

Every school level from the first grade to high school has the same rule that no outdoor clothes (jackets, hats etc) are allowed in the classroom. Some schools let the kids stay indoors from the grade 7 onwards (age 13) and those schools don't have any woolly hat rules. I'm not sure about the schools that still make the kids go out. You're allowed to wear shoes indoors though, so no need for separate indoor shoes. Some people choose to take their shoes off anyway, but I guess teachers believe teens aren't as likely to run around and slip and hit their heads as kids are.

One dress rule that my school had but that I doubt others don't: I can't remember which school it was, either ages 13-15 or 16-18. Anyway, they had just bought new chairs and they were worried of scratches, so they asked us to not wear any jeans with big buttons or other metal parts that could touch and scratch the chairs. We were slightly amused, but I guess people accepted it because the chairs survived our bottoms. :mrgreen:

Re: Appearance policing in schools

Posted: 2019-09-01, 17:16
by vijayjohn
I don't remember my schools having formal dress code policies until high school, but we weren't allowed to wear hats (this includes work), tank tops, or midriff-baring shirts or whatever. Shorts had to extend at least to the knee, if we were wearing them (instead of pants). In gym class in both middle and high school, we did have uniforms that we had to change into (just before we started class) and out of (at the end of class) in locker rooms segregated by sex (or gender or whatever). One time in elementary school, we had a day where everyone was supposed to wear some kind of clothing that was part of some other culture, preferably our heritage culture if we weren't white. On my parents' recommendation, I basically wore a lungi tied around my head, which according to my parents is a turban, but the teacher wouldn't let me wear it because she considered it a bandanna and thus violating the (informal) school dress code.

Re: Appearance policing in schools

Posted: 2019-09-03, 17:35
by linguoboy
I'm not sure what the current dress code is for my private college preparatory high school, but I imagine it hasn't changed much. Half the year we had to wear polo shirts and half the year dress shirts with ties. (My brother was personally responsible for rules specifying that they had to be cloth or leather.) We had to wear dress shoes and pants--no sneakers, no jeans, no cargo pants, etc. On heat emergency days (parts of the school were without airconditioning and the temperature could get above 35°C in late fall when we started classes), we were allowed to wear shorts. Our hair could not be below our shirt collar (my friends and I got around this by wearing it long in front) and we were not allowed to have facial hair. (Exceptionally, students in their final year were allowed to have moustaches.)

This is similar to the dress codes I had in parochial school. My second elementary school specified navy blue slacks and burgundy polo shirts for boys; the girls wore white blouses and a jumper in a distinctive plaid, which is stereotypically associated with Catholic schools here. It was the same for girls at my first elementary school, but boys were allowed wear either green, blue, or brown slacks and ordinary white dress shirts.

This is unusual though. In the 60s, public school students in California brought a lawsuit against the state challenging their school dress code and won. Since then, dress codes for public schools have become pretty lax. In general, they prohibit clothes that are too worn or torn and t-shirts that are "obscene" or "unduly provocative". (Some may prohibit graphic tees altogether just to make policing easier.) As you'd expect, women's clothing is much more closely policed than men's, leading to a lot of skirmishes as female/enby students organise to challenge them. (This is a common enough occurrence to inspire this recent Onion article: Recently, there's also been renewed focus on the racism inherent in a lot of school dress codes, which often manifests in the regulations governing hairstyle and length. Native American students have been forced to cut their long hair and African-Americans have been prohibited from wearing natural hairstyles such as dreads.

Re: Appearance policing in schools

Posted: 2019-09-03, 23:58
by vijayjohn
linguoboy wrote:Since then, dress codes for public schools have become pretty lax.

Well, lax compared to what they used to be in the US. :P I'm not sure whether they're lax by European standards, though.

Re: Appearance policing in schools

Posted: 2019-09-04, 0:34
by Linguaphile
Here, in most public schools, students can't wear anything sleeveless, shorts that are above the fingertips (when arms are at the side, obviously), anything that shows underwear (sagging pants, low-cut jeans, strapless or thin-strapped shirts that show bra straps, etc, or clothing with holes in places that show underwear), anything that has a message related to violence, drugs, alcohol, tobacco, sex, or politics; no hats indoors; only certain types of hats are allowed outdoors (no logos on hats, etc).
Hairstyles and makeup/piercings are pretty much left alone. Also, head coverings that are for religious or medical purposes are allowed; we have a lot of Muslim and Sikh students who do wear hijabs, turbans, etc.
A few public schools have adopted "standard dress" which is sort of midway between having uniforms and not having them; students are not required to purchase specific clothes but can only wear a limited set of specific colors (usually black/blue/tan pants and blue or white shirt, etc.)
Private Catholic schools here are pretty much the same as what Linguoboy described (even the same plaid).

Re: Appearance policing in schools

Posted: 2019-09-04, 10:44
by TheStrayCat
My high school was, and probably still is, quite strict about uniforms. Monday to Friday we had to wear a light-colored shirt with a tie (for boys), a velvet jacket with the school emblem attached, black pants (skirts were allowed for girls) and dark formal or semi-formal shoes. The rule about outside and inside shoes was also a thing but only during winter when it was snowing, so that we wouldn't bring too much dirt and slush into the building.

On Saturdays the uniform was free as long as it was within reasonable bounds, like no torn jeans or offensive T-shirts.

Most other schools in Ukraine have no Saturday classes and no such strict rules, even though I think the majority of them still have some kind of a standard uniform (apparently a 1996 law made school uniforms mandatory across the country but was repealed this year). Not sure however how much has changed in the last five years while I've been away.

Re: Appearance policing in schools

Posted: 2019-09-06, 20:07
by md0
Luís wrote:Cyprus is one weird place, I'll tell you what.

Apparently (and surprisingly even to me), we are not totally irredeemable :shock:
From today's headlines: high school principal condemned (incl. by MinEdu and government) for turning away headscarf-wearing Muslim student citing "no head covering" rule in public school dress code.

Re: Appearance policing in schools

Posted: 2019-09-09, 5:01
by vijayjohn
The clothes the kid on the left in this picture is wearing are, to my mind, typical of an Indian school uniform (Indian schools have uniforms AFAIK):

Re: Appearance policing in schools

Posted: 2020-02-02, 17:40
by Gormur
I hated school, and yes schools can be odd when it comes to their particular rules. I went to private school but it seemed lax. The only obviously weird thing was you could be physically punished by the principle (I was :) ). Other than that you could dress pretty much any way except profanity stuff, holey clothes and baggy pants

I remember though there was a Christian school in my neighborhood; closer than the one i attended which was about 20 miles from my house. At that school you weren't allowed to wear shorts if you were a boy but girls were allowed to wear skirts coming up to the knee

That seemed incredibly strange to me, especially when (it's probably not like this anymore in schools) during lunch break everyone would be forced to spend time outside; maybe 45 minutes. You know, in August when it's scorching hot. Hopefully by now that kind of behavior is considered child abuse :evil: