18 August 2010

Too short to be decent

'This year, my favourite has been the announcement by the headmistress of a school in Hereford that the girls there were wearing skirts "too short to be decent" and from September they will line up every morning and have their skirts measured by teachers. If a girl's fingertips come below her hemline, she will be sent home to change. Some parents have vigorously objected to the new rule, with one mother claiming that "the idea of lining them up is straight out of the Gestapo handbook. It's disgraceful."

A few things.

Number one – the need for an intermediate historical analogy to which one can liken modern inconveniences is becoming pressing. So few things are, after all, really like six million people being systematically slaughtered across a continent. I nominate, "It's like the rule of Napoleon III! A moderate police state, but civil liberties are increasing and people are, on the whole, taken in the round, becoming better off!" Or, "I feel like Myrna Loy during MGM's golden age, forever under the essentially benevolent but still tyrannical eye of Louis B Mayer!" Press your buttons now.

Number two – I remember being a teenage girl. Well, no, that's not true – I remember being surrounded by teenage girls. I was, until the age of about 22, technically a mineral – but I do remember the steaming, roiling tide of hormones that swept everyone (normal) along in an all but unstoppable headlong rush and against which onslaught the entire adult world united in order to mitigate the damage. Even with their best efforts, my educational establishment generally looked like a specialist brothel. Black bras under white shirts were de rigueur, as was enough eyeliner to drown a mouse, and waistbands rolled over so many times you would have thought genitalia were actually part of the school uniform. "Suzanne, where is your vagina today? Oh, you forgot it, did you? That's the third time this week. Once more and you'll go on report."'

- Lucy Mangan, Guardian, 14 August 2010

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