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British School Bans Expensive Coats So Poor Students Won't 'Feel Stigmatized'

Bans like these just encourage a victim mentality.

Wikimedia CommonsWikimedia CommonsA U.K. secondary school is banning a variety of designer jackets in an effort to stop "poverty-shaming."

Parents of students at Woodchurch High School, an institution in northwestern England, received a letter earlier this month from the school regarding the new policy. "Pupils will not be permitted to bring in Canadian [sic] Goose and Monclair [sic] coats after the Christmas break, the letter reads. "Some have also asked whether Pyrenex coats, which are also in a similar price range (with some also having real fur) will also be prohibited," it adds, before confirming "that these brands will also be prohibited after Christmas."

Headteacher Rebekah Phillips tells The Independent that some students had been coming to school in 700 pound (nearly $900) coats. This wasn't good for students whose parents couldn't afford such clothes. "They feel stigmatized, they feel left out, they feel inadequate," she says.

It's all part of a larger effort to prevent "poverty-shaming," Phillips tells the BBC. "We met with groups of pupils and made the decision in consultation with them," she says. "The pupils spoke to us about the pressure on families and the pressure on themselves to wear particular branded coats." According to Phillips, some parents requested the ban as well.

Many of Woodchurch High School's students—46 percent, according to CNN—are indeed poor. That's why the school provides free sanitary products and requires students use a certain type of backpack, so they don't pressure their parents to buy more expensive ones.

A YouGov survey suggests the British public largely agrees with the school's decision, with 68 percent saying they support it.

The backstory to the ban isn't clear. If this is just a case of some children feeling bad—or some adults worrying that kids will feel bad—because they can't afford the things some of their peers have, then the policy seems more likely to encourage a victim mentality than to help students feel better. Not being rich is nothing to be ashamed of; it hardly helps to tell kids that other people's clothes could "stigmatize" them.

It's possible, on the other hand, that some rich students were actively bullying other kids because of their clothes, and that the ban is an attempt to put an end to such cruelty. But in that case the school should target the behavior, not the clothes—and focus on the bullies rather than adopt a prohibition that affects everyone.

Photo Credit: Wikimedia Commons

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  • Hugh Akston||

    On the other hand kids can learn an important lesson when they discover that their $80 coat from Target keeps them just as warm as the $900 designer coat.

  • Alcibiades||

    $80 for a kid's coat?

    Are you insane!!!

  • lap83||

    "I mean it's a banana, how much can it cost? $10?"

    You can probably find an $80 kids coat somewhere like Nordstrom, not Target.

    And only suckers or wealthy grandparents spend that kind of money on kids clothes. You are lucky if they can wear it a few times before growing out of it or destroying it

  • Alcibiades||

    ...or lose it on the second wearing.

  • Paloma||

    Well, they do weight 700 pounds! Those kids has to be some kind of body builders.

  • Mickey Rat||

    Britain progressing back to medievalism by bringing back sumptuary laws.

  • Juice||

    But in reverse.

  • Jerryskids||

    What's the British translation for "No one can make you feel inferior without your consent"? Ah, there it is: "Keep a stiff upper lip". I guess they don't teach that in schools any more. Do they still teach "Suck it up, buttercup" or "Put on your big-girl panties" or "Stop crying or I'll give you something to cry about"?

  • MoreFreedom||

    Don't they teach "sticks and stones can break my bones, but words can never hurt me" in kindergarten?

    What about the poor kid who got his Canadian Goose coat at the thrift store?

    Seems to me, these kind of issues are why a lot of schools make students wear uniforms. And this is yet another reason we should separate school and state. Then some like minded private schools will require uniforms, while if the government did it, many would be upset that a) it costs extra unnecessarily, b) those government mandated uniforms are too nationalistic, and c) that's a violation of freedom of speech.

  • Diane Reynolds (Paul.)||

    Why don't they just institute a school uniform?

  • JFree||

    This. 90% of schools in UK have uniforms. OTOH - this story seems to be about coats so I suspect the school does have uniforms but it doesn't include a blazer or sweater

  • Eddy||

    A modern school uniform would probably look like this.

  • Kivlor||

    My first thought reading the headline was the same as Paul, immediately followed by your response. But honestly, just mandate a school blazer/sweater/jacket. Problem solved.

  • Eddy||

    "We have also received complaints of students eating their pudding when they haven't had any meat."

  • Fancylad||

    How can you have any pudding if you don't eat your meat?

  • Sir Chips Alot||

    if you don't kick your feet

  • Last of the Shitlords||

    I thought that line was "how can it I give you your pudding if you won't beat eat my meat?"

  • Last of the Shitlords||

    It's also something Tony says to the neighborhood boys.

  • Hugo S. Cunningham||

    Many schools have had uniforms for decades, partly for this very reason. What's the big deal?

  • Benitacanova||

    But the uniforms don't usually include coats.

  • JFree||

    Roughly half do - for a cost of roughly 35 pounds.

  • Benitacanova||

    When I was a kid the spoiled girls wore rabbit fur coats. I never felt stigmatized. What the hell is wrong with kids these days? Pressuring your parents to buy useless luxuries? We would have been smacked.

  • Sevo||

    I can see Mergetroid exiting the Rolls and changing to a cloth coat before entering the school.

  • Alcibiades||

    "I can see Mergetroid exiting the Rolls and changing to a cloth coat before entering the school."

    With help from the footman of course.

  • Fancylad||

    £700 for a grotty, pimply teenagers coat?
    It may no be right, but it makes me want to ban them from something.

  • Bubba Jones||

    What if they remove the tags?

    What am I supposed to do with my $900 coat now that it is banned. Couldn't they have announced this prior to the next school year?

  • Eric L||

    Donate the coat to some homeless person so they can "poverty-shame" others.

    Let's all just start wearing Mao outfits so no one, adults or children, feel stigmatized.

  • Alcibiades||

    If they think this new arrangement will blind the kids to the financial situation of everyone's parents they're being extremely naive.

  • LarryA||

    On the other hand, they obviously think that taking away fancy coats will encourage the rich kids to make friends with the "protected" kids. It always works that way, right?

  • Rich||

    Why not just go full "Harrison Bergeron"?

  • Trollificus||

    +1, Vonnegut. "It wasn't Rand, it wasn't Mises, it wasn't Heinlein, it was that damn Vonnegut story, 7th grade, man."

  • Shirley Knott||

    That and Shirley Jackson's The Lottery.
    Pity those are no longer being taught.

  • Rich||

    the school should target the behavior, not the clothes—and focus on the bullies rather than adopt a prohibition that affects everyone.

    You know, like the US is doing with guns.

  • Juice||

    If only they had banned Girbauds and Z Cavariccis when I was in 8th grade I wouldn't have had to hear a word about my Plain Pockets.

  • Deconstructed Potato||

    Noooo, not the Z-Cavs!

  • perlchpr||

    Ha ha ha ha ha. I was clearly the wrong target market there. Someone tried to impress me by telling me their Z-Cavs had cost $80 a pair, I mocked them for spending so much on a stupid pair of pants.

  • TrickyVic (old school)||

    ""It's all part of a larger effort to prevent "poverty-shaming," ""

    Also, no student can bring any money to school. This will be known as the empty pocket policy.

  • Fist of Etiquette||

    Worse than the stigma of being Limeys?

  • JFree||

    At some point, the rich kids parents will send their kid to dentists and get braces

  • Tony||

    When I was in school everyone dressed like shit. I guess you could argue that it was the 90s.

  • IceTrey||

    Grunge.

  • Tony||

    Yes, the 90s. I want to look like the scum that develops on the inside of dumpsters! How did that ever go away?

  • Sevo||

    Tony|11.16.18 @ 6:10PM|#
    'When I was in school everyone dressed like shit. I guess you could argue that it was the 90s."

    Fuck off, shitbag.

  • Tony||

    Eat my taint, buttweasel.

  • Agammamon||

    "The pupils spoke to us about the pressure on families and the pressure on themselves to wear particular branded coats."

    None of them, of course, being aware enough to realize the pressure to wear particular branded coats comes from themselves and nowhere else.

  • ||

    We're talking teenagers here. Where are they supposed to feel pressure from?

  • Sevo||

    Isaac Bartram|11.16.18 @ 6:44PM|#
    "We're talking teenagers here. Where are they supposed to feel pressure from?"

    There are no more dedicated 'nonconformists' than teens demanding the right label on the clothes they wear to school.

  • sharmota4zeb||

    The school should just show the kids this heartwarming film about an enlightened hero who teaches everyone that Christmas in not about material things.

  • Jimothy||

    We've heard reports that some kids have been studying and getting good grades. After Christmas, this will no longer be allowed because we don't want to slacker dumb ass shame.

  • creech||

    Are rich kids allowed to have braces on their teeth? Oh, sorry, we are talking about the UK.

  • Tony||

    They think their fucked-up mouths give them "character."

    God, I hate the British.

  • Fancylad||

    Braces are covered by the NHS for anyone under 18.
    They just won't though...

  • Don't look at me!||

    There is a 19 year wait list.

  • Sevo||

    Tony|11.16.18 @ 9:24PM|#
    "God, I hate the British."
    Not as much as we hate you, shitbag.

  • IceTrey||

    Yes when the rich kids drive up in their Mercedes the poor kids will feel better they do it in a $30 coat.

  • jdgalt1||

    It's outrageous that any government institution would put the feelings of envious assholes ahead of freedom. Is home schooling legal in Britain? If not, it may be time to push for it, or break the law and do it anyway.

  • Sevo||

    Dunno. The Brits aren't real bright; they think that "free" medical care is "free", so I don't hold out a lot of hope.
    Pretty place to visit...

  • TxJack 112||

    Who says the kids are actually envious? The school adminstration is just ASSUMING they will be envious. It is more likely the poor kids dont give a shit. When I was in high school we looked at preppies in thier IZOD and Polo shirts as idiots because we used our money to party and chase girls, not they to impress teachers or other posers

  • lwsbchbm||

    Why stop it? I think it's a great way to teach kids the difference between making financial decisions that are akin to setting money on fire and those that might grow your wealth.

    I remember when my Dad first showed me that many of the people who drove nice cars and wore expensive clothing were constantly late paying him because they were heavily in debt. A lot of them earned great incomes but were lousy with money. He also introduced me to some people that you wouldn't guess it from observing their lifestyle, but had accumulated significant wealth.

  • Eric L||

    ^This. I was going to post something along the same lines.

    '...people that you wouldn't guess it from observing their lifestyle, but had accumulated significant wealth.'
    For those who are wise to the ways of money and wealth creation/preservation and practice stealth wealth the hints are subtle but are identifiable.

  • Trollificus||

    As someone who, as a couple, never made anything remotely like "good money", but whose accumulated worth is at or near 7 figures, I can say that following 2 rules will ensure the acquisition of wealth:

    1) Show up on time for work every fucking day.
    2) Don't EVER spend money on 'interest', IOW, no debt.

    Two. Simple. Things. Now, a more aggressive approach to acquiring greater wealth may necessitate memorizing 250-odd Rules of Acquisition, or serious ethical compromises, but those two have served pretty damn well.

  • Liberty Lover||

    I am really hoping they extend some things like this to say automobiles. To many Cadillac's and Lexus's in my neighborhood. I am starting to feel 'Feel Stigmatized' driving my Chevy! (sarc)

  • Longtobefree||

    Of course, the option of teaching resistance to peer pressure is beyond the mental capacity of the teachers and staff.

  • Miter Broller||

    Ah, remember two short generations ago when the Brits were dodging German rockets and fighting against global fascism? Now their fighting against designer labels, my how far they've come!

  • Kivlor||

    Trying to stop kids from being lost in consumerism and conspicuous consumption? Sorry guys, that's a part of modernity, and unless you reject the root of the heresy, you'll never really be able to fight such destructive, poor mindsets.

  • loki||

    Poor kids are going to be pissed. When I was in school we had our own style. Hand me down leather, denims and Vietnam/ Korea era army jackets from the surplus store with our Slayer patches and sharpie drawings and whatnot. Now the richies are going to be encroaching on their territory. WTF!

  • TxJack 112||

    Exactly. I did same thing. For most of high school my "uniform" was black Harley T shirts, big bell levis and dingo boots. The only clothes I cared about where the ones girls wore and my only concern was how quickly I could talk them out of them. LMAO!!!

  • loki||

    Now the rich kids are going to be stigmatized as being poseurs, lol.

  • TxJack 112||

    Arent they always?

  • Jonrale9072||

    So why does nearly every single wealthy school in England and the United States have uniforms?

    Why not just Google the history of these decisions to regulate clothing at schools? There appears to be no historical research of any kind here, as if this issue just popped up out of nowhere— as if the question existed out of time, like some kind of Platonic Form, in spite of the fact that school clothing regulations, school uniforms for example, have been around for hundreds of years and many public schools in the United States have been adopting them for 30 or more years now. How sensible is it ignore all that history and reasoning in this article?

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