Came Through Drippin’: School Bans Expensive Winter Wear To Avoid “Poverty-Shaming”
Many schools in the United States have adopted a uniform policy to avoid the bullying and ridicule that can come when students attend school wearing inexpensive brands. The BBC reports a school in the United Kingdom has gone one step further banning expensive winter wear to crack down on “poverty-shaming” within its student body.
Woodchurch High School in Birkenhead sent a letter to parents stating the brands such as Moncler, Pyrenex and Canada Goose, would be banned from the school. Coats form these labels can cost as much as $1000 and the administration believes it can result in “poverty-shaming” of students from families who can’t afford them. Rebekah Phillips, head teacher at the school, says both parents and students are supportive of the decision:
“We are very concerned as a school about poverty-proofing our school environment and, as such, we met with groups of pupils and made the decision in consultation with them.”
“The pupils spoke to us about the pressure on families and the pressure on themselves to wear particular branded coats. A few years ago we introduced a school bag for the same reason.”
She also states that the ban was partially in response to parents’ requests:
“We have had parents approaching us asking us to introduce a ban prior to us writing the letter.”
Responses ranged from positive to neutral with some students stating the ban is a relief for the need to compete socially with fashion that costs as much as rent for the month for some students and some parents stating the ban is a positive move, although they wouldn’t have spent that kind of money on a coat anyway.
CNN reports around 46% of the 1,427-strong student body comes from a disadvantaged background and the school has taken steps in the past to reduce poverty-shaming including introducing a mandatory school bad void of any branding and cutting down on non-uniform days.
I’m curious to see how steps like these play out in socialization of children and teens in the long run. My high-school days were full of first day of school fashion shows and the anticipation of rocking fresh pair of Air Force One’s to the senior trip. But there were also days were I tried to pass off fake Tommy Hilfiger t-shirts and wore Baby Phat long past it’s prime and was promptly roasted because of it. My feelings may have been hurt at the time, but it was a good lesson in resilience and character-building that I’d like to think prepared me for world where you quickly realize life isn’t fair and that a confident personality can sometimes take you farther then a paycheck. Let’s not act like there aren’t plenty of lames rocking $1000 winter coats. But just because bullying went down back in the day, doesn’t make it OK. However, today’s teens are growing up in a world where appearances can really seem to take priority over everything else with social media being ever-present and a obsession over designer fashion can be an unnecessary distraction from the schoolwork. As my mama would say, “You can come through dripping all you want, but if them grades drop that’s your a**.”