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Freedom From Oppression In The Work Place

Sep 1, 2008
There are two groups of people in life. There are those that mature at the age of ten into forty year olds, the ones that revel in turning up at school in a tie with their shirts tucked in. Then there are those that make it to twelve or thirteen with all the hang ups that this age bracket bring and before you know it have actually turned forty with little more maturity than in their teenage years.

It has to be said that as much as people like to think they have become mature and grown up, the majority of us manage to maintain a childish streak well into our early thirties. It is precisely that childish streak that, when we are at school tells us to rebel against our uniforms and try to express our individuality by tying our ties around our heads and break all the rules by hanging our shirts outside of our trousers.

This is precisely why schools implement a strict uniform code. It means that, in theory, we are all going to look the same. There will be no way of telling who is poor and who isn't, who can keep up with current trends and who can't. But that is only theory. See a child in nylon hand me downs and while they may be the same colour as everyone else's, you can still see it. However, the intention is there to make everyone feel the same, to avoid one rubbish excuse for bullying and to give us all a sense of belonging.

Then, when we grow up, we get the anoraks that matured at the age of ten in charge of us at work who wish to use the same rubbish excuses to introduce work uniforms. The work uniform will undoubtedly be nylon. It will be fashioned in a non-fashionable way to ensure we equally look like idiots and to avoid any differences between the male and female work force, it will be bland and shapeless.

Work uniforms are, I believe, a form of oppression. Grown adults residing in a country that prides itself on its freedom of expression are now being told what we are allowed to wear every day? It is argued that a work uniform is a way of protecting our own clothes but those of us that are still at the immature stage don't want to wear uniforms - we want to express our individuality still and wear what we want.

This is where I am lucky. Where I work, the work uniform is limited to those who are meeting and greeting clients. The rest of us turn up in our jeans and trainers and in the summer, our surfing shorts and flip flops. The women simply love the competition that means they don't have to wear work uniforms. Some days they turn up dressed to the nines in killer heels and skirts and there is certainly an amount of rivalry going on but if it makes them feel better, what does it matter.

And I, for one, do not see a problem with that. Surely, at the end of the day, the objective is to get the work done quickly and efficiently. Speaking from personal experience, this is easier to do if we are comfortable.

But then, maybe that shows that we are more mature than the anoraks would have us believe. If we can turn up to work in any old clobber, do the job to the best of our ability and then go home why would we need a work uniform to push us into this?
About the Author
Fasion expert Catherine Harvey looks at what makes employees want to enforce work uniforms instead of allowing freedom of expression.
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