When I was in Makerere College School, girls in O’level were required to wear outrageously yellow, almost dangerously large school uniforms. We looked like unfashionable child brides with the yellow cotton ballooning around our barely-there hips and dangling onwards to our skinny calves. Because, like all girls in high school, we were fizzing with hormones and rebellion, we’d waste no time in altering them to show off the great work that puberty was doing.
The boys were luckier. They got to wear large shorts which were very much at par with the fashions of the time. All they needed to do was pull their shorts down over their bottoms and boom! 50 cent. That practice that was (and still is) called balancing. Balancing what though? Morals? Like look at me straddling the moral line! You can see my bum but not my acorn!
There used to be raids during assembly where dresses that didn’t fit the requirements were cut up with scissors. Many years later, I still don’t understand what motivated the teachers to be so rabid about our uniforms. Surely as inhabitants of the adult world, they knew that force and humiliation only makes teenagers more rebellious. The aim was also obscure. Were we being taught modesty? Obedience? Whatever it was, it evaporated the moment age liberated us from the tyranny of the stick.
When you enter a boutique in the city, its owner immediately asks you to describe what kind of dress you’re looking to buy. If it’s a well stocked boutique, your options are casual, sundress, dinner, club and corporate. The corporate styles make my jaw slacken every time.
They’re usually tight, hugging every part of your body that our high school uniforms tried to hide. Your bottom, belly and bust are all on full show. These clothes are very sexy, no sexual. They make you look like Aphrodite, even when you’re carrying a stack of dirty newspapers. Without exception, they are uncomfortable, sticking to your skin as if they’re lonely and making lunch times very emotional for the people who decide to wear them. I mean you really want to dig into your meal with passion but also, don’t want to find yourself unable to breathe after indulging.
With the exception of crane bank, I can’t think of a corporate institution that requires people to wear uniform. This is maybe one of the reason certain girls wear stripper heels to office. What I want to one day know is how they’re able to endure the elevation and pain of those shoes and the squeezing of the dresses. Perhaps these things we have to wear to fit the bill of sexy are all part of a conspiracy to slow women down.
I’m writing this on Tuesday, the 6th of November. Later on today, I am going to sit on a panel with Mr. Bazanye and talk about how the internet has changed writing in Uganda. The audience is going to be full of people that are involved in the production of all the kinds of art that Uganda has to offer. I’m picking at my document like a dissatisfied hen because it has to be perfect. I’m going to go away now and concentrate.
That presentation went well. I’m going to compress it and send it to my editor, so expect it in Stiletto Point one of these Sundays.