Sunday, March 28, 2010

"School P.E. Uniforms" an article

I feel like this post should be titled (as Monty Python says) “And now for something completely different”……..

I have been involved in an ongoing writing class and was reading back some things I had written and thought I would share this with you. Please feel free to let me know if you never want me to share my writing with you again :).

The prompt was to write about an article of clothing or shoes that you loved or hated that describes who you were at the time.

School P.E. Uniforms

When I was in school we were required to take physical education everyday. I hated it. I didn’t hate the physical part of it just the timing. It took so long to get dressed for school as it was. I had a short bobbed haircut and the style was to tease it up and then hair spray the bejesus out of it. I applied heavy eyeliner, pancake make up, and mascara to the lashes (which needed the use of an eyelash curler), and frosted lipstick. Really I did all that. Dresses were mandatory clothing for girls, which meant wearing a garter belt and hose.

P.E. was an hour long class most of which was taken up with softball, archery, bowling, track or exercising to the “Go You Chick Fat Go Away” recording after which you were sweaty and we were required to take showers which took up the rest of that hour. The gym teacher would inspect you to see if your body was sufficiently wet enough to be given credit for showering. Showering was part of your grade along with the use of deodorant. The gym locker room always had a thick haze of hair spray and spray deodorant and I imagine that alone contributed 50% of the ozone layers decline.

Now comes the dreaded uniform - blue chambray, one piece jumpsuits that snapped up the front, had a fitted waist with pleating on each side for the bust and hips, was sleeveless, and had short pants. The pleats had to be ironed neatly in place and the collar starched. It was a pain to wear and a pain to prepare. Again it was part of our grade. Our tennis shoes had to be white with our initials on each one across the toe facing outward so the teacher could read them.

To try and have all this together, exercise, shower, get dressed, apply makeup, and fix hair was a task to do in an hour! All the girls complained. Maybe this was an extension of Home Economics? All young ladies should know how to iron, launder, and be presentable?

Those uniforms were ugly, especially on me when I only weighed 90 lbs. and had stick arms and legs. Furthermore we had to dress and undress in front of each other. I was shy when it came to this. Many of the girls were already forming breasts and wore bras, not me. I begged my mother to buy me training bras (did I think that would help my breast form, is that why they called them training bras?) so I would be like the other girls and not so embarrassed. I wore those types of bras through high school until my senior year when Gloria Steinem and the ERA advocates told us to burn them. My mother was incensed at me yelling “All those years I spent money on bras for you when you didn’t need them and now you should wear one and you refuse”.

It was about the same time that the school changed it’s policy to allow girls to wear pants to school, including jeans which became the rage. I believe they thought pants less offensive than the mini skirts we were wearing. The dress for P.E. eventually gave way to shorts and tee shirts, but not while I was in school.


Joanne Huffman said...

You vividly bring back horrible memories (especially the showering part in junior high, where we had to show our freshly showered bodies to the gym teacher - in high school, we didn't have the shower parade). I enjoyed this and would happily read other writing posts.

Jomama said...

What a funny peek into the past! We just changed into short and shirts, no clothing inspection at all. The tricky part was remembering to take them home occasionally to launder.

I hated changing semi-publicly in the locker room too. Really highlighted the haves, and the have-nots!

lifeshighway said...

I had locked away those horrible memories of the girl's locker room in Junior High. We had uniforms but they were not required to be starched. We were also inspected for cleaniness. No getting around showering. And I was the opposite, I wished my boobs would absorb back into my treacherous body.