A Note On Uniforms

or Why My Students Would Have Trouble In South African Schools

I once watched a show called The World’s Strictest Parents. In one episode, two snotty teenagers were sent to a South African family, and a South African school.The BBC voice-over informed the viewers that South African schools were militant, showing the kids standing in line for assembly, and having their uniforms inspected. I remember that the policies regarding hair, nails and make up pretty much broke the girl in the episode. I just thought she was being melodramatic, and that her hairstyle was silly, and that she actually looked prettier without makeup, because it meant that her face wasn’t so very pink.

And I imagined that my response was due to the fact that my school made us uniforms, and that uniform practices (while they may differ from country to country) are pretty… well… uniform. I imagined that the rules I was used to would be the rules applied to South Korean schools as well… except for the shoes.


My students wear an array of colourful hair ties and clips. They wear their own coats and hoodies. The girls have a choice between school ties and adorable bow tie type things. While everything is still pale blue and navy (Oh! The flashbacks!), I think it’s hardly as restrictive. The students seem to wear their sports uniforms and their normal uniforms fairly interchangeably, and I can’t seem to work out the rules on anything regarding their uniforms.

Now, I’m not sure, but I suspect that most of the girls are wearing BB cream. I haven’t had much chance to look at their nails either, but I imagine they’re somewhat longer than I was allowed. Also, I remember SA’s rules on hairstyles being quite restrictive. If your hair touched either your collar or your eyebrows, it either had to be cut or tied up. Not so for my students.

And the socks. Don’t get me started on the socks. They were the second worst part of my uniform (the worst being the skirts), and they may be the reason behind my strange and colourful sock collection.

Of all the things I thought would cause me confusion, I didn’t imagine it would be the uniforms at my school.


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