From Uniform to Free-Style

18 Aug 2016

As we near the end of the holidays, thoughts will be turning to a new start, and for some that will mean a new school-year, University, College or a new job. 

For those moving into Sixth Form at school or leaving, and moving away from uniform, the prospect of no school uniform might be an unnerving one.  Whereas before the question of what to wear didn’t exist, it now has, quite possibly an overwhelming significance.  It is fraught with implications which are deeper than meets the eye.

For a generation of girls brought up under the burden of Connectivity 24/7 through Social Media and daily exposure to images which present a false “ideal body image” through photo-shopping and air-brushing, or psychological pressures from fashion and media industries to dress a certain way to be “on trend” and “perfect”, the pressure must sometimes be enormous.  The “Selfie” generation makes how one looks even more relevant than before.

Whichever way you look at it, first impressions count.  That is human nature and never is it more relevant than when you are attending an interview or starting off in the workplace.  How can girls dress to feel comfortable, be themselves and make a good first impression, if that is called for? 

When I present at schools to groups of girls about to make that journey into “uniform-free” territory, I address these issues in as light-hearted but effective a way as possible.  I emphasise the importance of staying as true to their authentic-selves as possible. Ultimately it is about embracing who they are and their own body-shape to make the most effective self-presentation, particularly in interview situations but also going forward into the outside world.

At that age, you have to be brave to dare to be different, or even, be yourself; not be swayed by peer-group pressure or celebrity/media culture.  It is all a learning-curve of course.  It takes some people years to find that confidence, and even their own style.

Finding your own style is actually a journey through many mistakes along the way.  This is ok.  The best you can do at this stage is try and feel more confident about being yourself and taking extra  consideration when it comes to interview situations.

There is a movement occurring right now towards Authenticity in self-presentation and body-shape.  In my presentations I emphasise the deception created in the images they are being bombarded by, daily.  They are sure to damage a girl’s, and boy’s, self-esteem and body-confidence and make them anxious.  The pressure is increasingly on boys as well as girls. 

There is now a growing collection of movements supporting this inspiring, heart-lifting more natural, authentic approach.  This is truly wonderful.  I have just become a supporter of @Taryn Brumfitt’s Body Image Movement and her film “Embrace” (relaeased soon in the UK), which encourages women to accept their own body-shape and so-called “imperfections” #ihaveembraced.

There is the Dove campaign, #mybeautymysay , the All Walks Catwalk who are ambassadors for the Be Real campaign #BeReal and their fabulous Body Confidence Awards,  the Beach Body Ready  #eachbodysready campaign in reaction to the infamous Beach Body Ready protein advert, Sport England (@ThisGirlCanUK) with their campaign #thisgirlcan, #BraveGirlsWant and the Government and their #truthInAds campaign.

Celebrities have come on board to highlight eating disorders (Demi Lovato, Ferne Cotton, Jennifer Lawrence), negative body image (Laverne Cox, Taylor Swift) and anti-perfection issues (Lorde, Miley Cyrus).

It will be a drip-feed of positive messages and encouragement for girls, and boys, to slowly make the change that is so desperately needed now.  I am motivated enough by what is happening to young people now to make a small contribution where I am given the opportunities to.

I am available to make presentations to girls in years 11-13 to give guidance on dressing for interviews, dressing in the sixth form, self-presentation and body-confidence:  email

#ihaveembraced #eachbodysready #thisgirlcan #Bravegirlswant #Truthinads #BeReal #mybeautymysay