Write here: A school uniform binds students together like the strands of a braid

By Cynthia Chau Wing-tung, 16, True Light Girls’ College

A True Light Girls’ College student, explores her conflicting feelings about how her school’s dress code both challenges, and defines, her identity

By Cynthia Chau Wing-tung, 16, True Light Girls’ College |

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Pupils from True Light Girls' College, have braids as part of their school dress code.

To braid or not to braid, that is the question.

Everyone can tell who we are, the students of True Light Girls’ College. Why? Our two signature braids. According to tradition, every True Light girl has to wear their hair this way. But why exactly do we need to follow this style? Why not just one plait, or a ponytail? Aren’t they just a waste of time?

I know rules are rules, but three of our sister schools in Hong Kong have already relaxed their uniform policies. Now, students can wear their hair in single plaits or ponytails. They only need to wear pigtails on special occasions. If the two-braid hairstyle is rarely seen in other schools, why are we still clutching onto old traditions. Are they so important, so irreplaceable?

Talking Points: what would you change about your school uniform?

Traditions can be a burden. You wake up, get dressed, have breakfast and head to school. But, wait – we need to do our hair. For every True Light Girls’ College student, this is an essential part of their daily routine. It takes time and effort to accomplish, especially for students whose hair is relatively short.

What's perhaps worse, however is how instantly recognisable we are. Wherever we go, people always know that we’re True Light girls. There’s an expectation that we will be well-behaved, polite, and presentable – after all, we are representing our school. When we go to interschool competitions, we feel that added pressure, knowing that if we lose, people will know it’s the True Light Girls that lost. Not to mention the fact that pigtails aren’t the most convenient hairstyle when it comes to doing sports. While the other girls have pulled their hair back in tight ponytails, our plaits fly around our faces like spaniels’ ears.

But when it comes to the question of whether to get rid of the braid rule, the jury is out. Some like the sense of belonging the hairstyle gives them; others want the freedom to choose their own hairstyle.

Face off: should schools have uniforms?

But despite these opposing views, there’s no denying that the two braids are an integral part of True Light Girls’ College’s identity. They reflect our school’s principles of discipline, independence and responsibility. On the very first day of school, during their orientation, True Light girls are taught to tie their braids, to ensure they will be able to do it by themselves for the rest of their school lives.

Throughout all the years of True Light’s long history, as countless generations of girls have passed through its doors, there is one thing that unites them all. Perhaps we owe it to students both past and future to keep this

tradition alive.

The values of True Light Girls’ College are one that we should be proud to stand for, and by extension, we should be proud to wear our hair in those signature plaits. True Lights teaches us to be resilient, brave and committed, and hopefully, that’s what people see when they see our hair.

School dress codes and uniforms are promoting sexism, and here's why

Maybe in a few year’s time, I won’t remember a lot of things I learned at school. But the memory of those two iconic braids will never fade.

Edited by Charlotte Ames-Ettridge

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