Nov 11, 2010
Readers, do you ever find yourself having to wear a uniform, for school, for work, or even for play? How do you feel about it?
It will come as no surprise to most of you that I am generally anti-uniform, in pretty much all their manifestations. For me, uniforms have largely negative associations. These include:
organized sports (ritualized violence on the field imo)
science fiction movies
That said, there are times when I do like to see people in uniforms. Uniformed flight attendants and pilots calm me when I fly and give me confidence that someone is in charge and (presumably) knows what they're doing.
In hospitals, I like to be able to distinguish the medical staff from the visitors.
Likewise, it can be helpful in a large store to know who works there and can potentially be of service to me and who's just shoplifting on their lunch hour.
And if my house is on fire...
When uniforms represent cleanliness, competence, and safety, I'm OK with them. But whether it's a higher status uniform (brain surgeon) or lower status (Tyson Foods meat processor) I don't want to have to wear one.
I grew up at a time when institutions were shedding uniforms, especially schools. The only time I had to wear a uniform was for glee club concerts, and the uniform -- blue blazer, gray slacks, light blue shirt, crimson tie -- was as much a performance costume as a uniform. (In the same way, most people don't think of the Radio City Hall Rockettes as wearing uniforms, they're costumes -- unless they're dancing to "The March of the Wooden Soldiers.")
I get that mandatory school uniforms may help kids focus more on their studies and less on what they're wearing.
But kids -- who only mirror the culture they belong to -- usually still find ways of expressing their relative social/economic status.
The military uniform has influenced mainstream fashion for ages, and I've always believed that by adopting military styles we're unconsciously blurring the boundaries between civilian life and military life. I respect those who choose a military career, but I do not like to witness the militarization of my city, schools, or government.
Military styles come and go. They're very popular now. I wonder why...?
I find many military-inspired fashions appealing: the cuts are generally flattering, the lines elegant and slim. And yet I shun them if the association is too strong. I will not wear camouflage, tassled epaulets, or a pith helmet.
In closing, friends, how do you feel about uniforms and/or military fashion?
Do you enjoy wearing a uniform or do you find it oppressive? (Are there times you wish you did wear a uniform, just to make getting dressed in the morning easier?)
Do uniforms have negative/positive associations for you?
Finally, why does everyone wear a uniform in outer space?
Labels: clothing and culture