Hong Kong’s school-uniform culture: a story of conformity
May 5, 2017 - School Uniform
From Tai O to Sha Tau Kok, crocodiles of immature children traipsing along in orderly laundered propagandize uniforms have remained an iconic Hong Kong steer for decades.
In Hong Kong – Epilogue to an Empire (1988), Jan Morris described a stage that greeted her while walking on a remote Lantau path: “a line of tiny girls in roughly exaggeratedly English uniforms, crested blazers, pleated white skirts, tiny neat knapsacks on their backs”.
Visiting writers who documented internal life during a desperately overcrowded, poverty-stricken 1950s and 60s mostly commented on how immaculately Hong Kong’s schoolchildren were incited out when they emerged from bank squatter huts and densely packaged tenement buildings. Many propagandize uniforms – afterwards as now – were essentially white, that done laundering in such conditions all a some-more challenging.
Uniforms assistance symbol out pursuit roles and ragged in a same approach as those for nurses, firefighters, military officers or other occupations, propagandize uniforms yield an early introduction to a trained universe of work. Uniforms vigilance a veteran cadre to a outward world, while colour, character and badge variations prove hierarchy to those within an organisation.
Hong Kong’s school-uniform culture, as in other tools of a world, is a amicable leveller in a classroom, stadium and on a street; outwardly, during least, everybody is a same. Teenage conform parades and displays of standing – so many a underline of Hong Kong life – are minimised, if not eliminated, and reduction affluent relatives of children certified to chosen schools on educational consequence are spared a responsibility of providing smart clothes. Status markers sojourn inevitable, and perceptible themselves in other, pointed ways. Mobile phones, spending income and discretional, non-uniform equipment such as backpacks, training boots and watches capacitate schoolyard snobbery-by-stealth.
Hong Kong’s many private kindergartens also have particular uniforms; for boys, these are mostly youthful variations of adult loll suits with dicky bows – lovable for doting relatives to see their small kids kitted out in, perhaps, yet many reduction practical for enterprising toddlers to hasten around in. Updated variations of soldier suits of a kind renouned in Victorian and Edwardian times are also widespread.
School uniforms for boys are self-consciously modelled on British grammar- or public-school styles, with dim blazers, propagandize badges, ties and other genealogical markers. Girls’ uniforms – quite for those schools tranquil by Christian denominations – are mostly a mutated three-quarter length, modestly loose-fitting cheongsam, with a mandarin collar and brief side slits.
Otherwise stylish Hong Kong Chinese women news that being forced into one incited them off a thought of wearing a cheongsam ever again; a character portion as a slow sign of a entirely disliked propagandize uniform and a duration of their lives that a mantle represented. For others, quite those aged adequate to remember a World of Suzie Wong era, a broader socioeconomic connotations of certain cuts of cheongsam as a work uniform for cocktail waitresses or bar girls offer a serve disincentive.
In many Hong Kong schools, hats play small or no partial in a uniform. In other subtropical territories – Australia and South Africa open to mind – bearing to a object is realistically resisted to assistance forestall skin cancers in after life. Local versions of British open schools, however, follow their primogenitor institution’s headwear customs, yet some-more for reasons of smoothness with alien Western tradition (a vast partial of a captivate in a initial place, for many Hong Kong families) than for their unsentimental value.