Does It Really Matter?

Yesterday, I wrote about how I am comfortable in my skin errr..and my clothes.

But then after I posted that, I read this post by Sue  who in turn had posted about this article in the Fliplog who had written about children critizing their teachers’ way of dressing!

I must admit I was pretty shocked to hear about it.

My mother has been a teacher for over 35 years. No, she doesnt wear lipstick, she doesnt wear nail polish (At least not to school, in vacations she does wear the reckless red nail polish which Appa unfailingly buys for her 😉 but removes it before the school begins) she doesnt wear eye make up at all. She is delightfully plump (thats how Appa describes her) and doesnt wear any salwar kameezes or jeans etc to school.


As far as I know, she is one of the most respected teachers in her school. I have previously written on this blog how she has had children come back to her after 20 years recognizing her in places like railway stations and fallen on her feet and confessed her to be their guiding force.

OF course, I must admit, she dressed very neatly to school. Her hair was always in place (not that she had too much of it 😉 ) her collection of sarees is something my friend N hopes to inherit some day and her blouses were always ironed properly. Her saree was pinned correctly and while the correctness of the pleats down would vary depending on who set it (Appa, RMB, RM or Cousin K – for the records, Cousin K was the best, followed by RMB, followed by Appa 😉 I dont even feature in the list gah!) she was always neatly dressed.

I thought teachers were supposed to inspire through their teaching. teachers were supposed to command respect through their teaching and teachers were supposed to teach values, morals apart from academics in school but I certainly didnt think, teachers were supposed to be fashionable as well. Being neatly dressed to school is important but wear make up and not wear demin jacket over every outfit!!!

So what if a teacher has a chipped nail or wears no make up? Does a teacher’s fashion sense define a good teacher?

What I want to ask the people at DPS school is – What will give your students a better future, a teacher who is uptodate in fashion or a decently dressed teacher who can connect to the students and make them understand their stuff.

I must admit, personally, I was a little upset with what I read. I would have recommended teaching the students how your external looks are not important but how to transfer your knowledge and enhance the other person’s understanding is more important.

The article states Ms. Manju Sharma, the principal of DPS South saying

“Students want teachers to impart knowledge, but to do so in style,” said Manju Sharma, the impeccably clad principal of D.P.S. South.

They looked like they had come to school in a tearing hurry,” Ms. Sharma said.

Ms. Salins assembled a teacher-student panel at “Fashion Talk,” where a 10th-grader named Angad Gummaraju minced no words.  “If my teacher came in with chipped nail polish, she does not know how to present herself,” he said.  “I would not respect her.”

Jeez Angad, would you really give respect to unchipped nails or to the fact that your teacher who can impart the right education to you!!!
D.P.S. South took its survey findings seriously.  It roped in a fashion designer, Michelle Salins, to conduct a daylong session for teachers on how to pick and coordinate clothes, accessorize, wear makeup and choose footwear.

While this would have been great for the teachers, what I wish could have been for the students was to rope in someone who would tell them that teachers with chipped nails arent fashion disasters. They are just normal human beings who manage a zillion tasks in a day something you all have to do once you grow up eh?

I am not upset with the fact that DPS is trying to improve its teacher’s fashion sense (to each his/her own) I am more upset with the fact that instead of telling the students that external looks are not the deciding factor, the school is working on teaching fashion to its teachers.

I am upset about the fact that is fashion/looking good is what is commanding respect now a days? What happened to those teachers who command respect by the sheer magic of their teaching? What happened to those teachers, whose very presence drew a silence among the students? What happened to those teachers who were your parents away from home?

Have children really become so shallow? Tomorrow will my child like a teacher who wears the nail paint of the right colour matching with her clothes, or will she respect a teacher who gives her the right values?

God! I am just praying its the later. Please God!


About R's Mom

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58 Responses to Does It Really Matter?

  1. The Bride says:

    I thought the interesting thing about the article linked – and this was what struck me from the comments of the students too – was how the deference to the teachers has disappeared. This can be a good thing, but unfortunately, the comments as you said were so shallow and the management decided to take them seriously. The workshop sounded so gimmicky. Oh well, someone made money on this I’m sure. But the message to the students is that their shallow nonsense is worth consideration – ugh.

    • R's Mom says:

      Thats what upset me as well…where did the respect for the teachers go? 😦

      • The Bride says:

        Actually, I’m okay with the respect for teachers going. Honestly, looking back, I don’t think many of my teachers were worthy of the kind of respect demanded of them (though there were a few standouts). If the enforced respect for teachers or elders or anyone is going, I’m ok with that. What I’m not okay with is deciding someone is not worthy of respect based on their clothes, or worse “fashion”.

        • R's Mom says:

          Well, I wont go that far…I definitely would want respect for the teachers. May be becuase my Amma is one 🙂

          But yes, I can so totally relate to that teachers not worthy of respect on looking back…I agree on that..but if my child dis respects a teacher, I would definitely not be okay with that…Tiger mom I am becoming na 😦

  2. Sumana says:

    Surprised here to an extent. But seeing the way Blore is moving and heading towards, I can understand what the kids are upto. Especially DPS South has the cream upper class getting in to the school, so not shell shocked if the kids come up with this. But reading your post made pat on my back whn i went against my own decision of putting kids in this school. The attitude of kids these days are mostly triggered i think by parents view, endless tv and movies. Till date i cannot bring myself to talk about any teacher in this way 1) being we strictly are taught to consider them as Gurus 2) being we never looked for those things in a teacher other then her behaviour in the class, teaching, partiality etc.

    • R's Mom says:

      I agree to your 1 and 2.

      I must admit that while we all liked teachers who dressed neatly, the dressing sense of our teachers was not something in our minds at all!

  3. R’s Mom, I think it is a cultural thing and mostly the way you think depends on how you were brought up to think. I know families, where commenting on someone’s very ordinary looks very verbally is considered acceptable, and even the parents join in , in the sniggers, despite the fact that the person may be amazingly good at something like sports, studies or music etc. In my own family, commenting like this on beauty matters only , would have earned me a censure, a slap, or an open rebuke. We were encouraged to see a whole, and look for good in everyone.

    I dont think some of todays parents even have the time to figure out what their kids are thinking. Or the kids read things like Femina and follow a herd mentality. Everything is very visual, western concept oriented, and so there are situations like the shameless chap commenting on a teachers chipped nails/nailpolish. I suppose next they will start giving the teachers a dressing allowance, and have them walk the ramp when they come for job interviews.

    Shyaa. I am just so disgusted .

    • R's Mom says:

      I think dressing up neatly is important especially when you are teaching impressionable minds, but I was extremely upset about the entire ‘coaching the teachers in fashion’

  4. Scribbler says:

    Hi RM,
    I read your blog often but have never commented here.
    While I agree with you that it is not the fashion sense of the teachers that should matter but how they teach, I want to point something out in your observation which has got repeated mention in this post.
    The student has commented about chipped ‘nail polish’ and not chipped ‘nails’. The article also states: One asked, “Her nail polish is always chipped, why wear nail polish at all?”- which I assume, is for the same teacher. This can perhaps be equated to unruly hair or crumpled clothes. No one has stated that the teachers ‘should’ wear nail polish. It is just- if wear, wear properly. As kids, we were also taught to have clean (and short) nails, right?
    That said, I do not remember any teacher from school or college for her/his looks/dressing. They all stand out as good teachers or bad teachers based on how they taught me and treated me. I do remember some specific traits- like your mother’s- ironed, nicely pleated sarees or properly tied hair of a few teachers but nothing more. And those traits do not really impact my views about the person per se.
    I had a professor in college- actually the prof who I respect the most. He would ‘always’ dress up in formals, even for a late evening meeting with students, even if he was coming back from home after dinner. His explanation was- “The way one dresses shows how much importance one gives to that particular meeting/person. I dress up formally for meetings with college administration, other academicians and people from corporate world. If I dress informally- in a tshirt etc- while interacting with students, it just shows that I do not consider them important enough or I am not serious about the particular meeting.” These are his personal views, and perhaps a bit extreme case, but I found it worth sharing.

    • R's Mom says:

      Welcome here

      I agree, may be I am over reacting on that nail paint bit…(because I always have chipped nails :):) ???)

      But thats what na rey, you mention you remember teachers for their particular traits and not their fashion sense.

      I am not saying teachers can go in torn clothes and pyjamas to teach, all I am saying is that having a great fashion sense is not important thats all

      About your professor, well its his personal view and I love the fact that he treated his students with the same importance he gave his admin guys.

      My dad is now a professor, and he often meets his students in t shirts..does that mean he doesnt consider them important enough? I dont think so. I think at the end of the day, you respect your professor for what he taught you and not because he was dressed in formals always.

      • Scribbler says:

        I should add: I do not respect that professor only for the fact that he used to dress up in formals but for his dedication to every role he chooses or is given, teaching methodology, and the part he played in my life as a mentor. The dressing bit is just a way of him showing his beliefs. Of course, neither you nor I will remember a teacher who always dressed very nicely but nothing more than that.
        Same here, for the chipped nails part! 🙂

  5. Amit says:

    Being a constant visitor to Geet’s high profile school, I have observed that some of the teachers dress very shabbily. I mean, really really shabbily. Now even when we go to office, we dress our best. So, this profession should not be different.
    Secondly, by dressing properly, it does not mean that a teacher should look like a model. Geet does not wear lipstick or eyeliner to school but she looks presentable. And I think that is enough.
    In the end, the teacher is respected by the way she teaches and not by the way she dresses but a shabbily dressed teacher does convey the wrong messages. Of course, DPS went a little overboard here.

    • R's Mom says:

      I agree. While dressing neatly is important, I dont think not having a great fashion sense is important.

      I dress neatly to work, but I also dont dress very fashionably.

  6. chipmunk says:

    I go with you! as of now children were chit chatting about the appearance! now they get an idea to talk about the dress and nail colors and their make up. its like unwanted things they creating!

    • R's Mom says:

      I really dont know what else the kids can discuss…I belong to a completely alien generation now!

      • chipmunk says:

        ha ha ha 🙂 they make real fun! just being out of college I am not yet alien! they do all the pranks that they can! it may be funny by then, but down the lane, it look shameful, every one forgets one thing in life, they never think of there future! they see it only in short run! they are not really worried what if there kid also do the same! I personally feel its really hard for a teacher to handle this class generation!

  7. chaitali says:

    Its so right RM, i remember something which our teachers had taught us

    A foreigner asked Swami Vivekananda:
    ” Can’t you wear proper clothes to be a gentle man? ”

    Swami Vivekananda Replied:
    ” In your culture TAILOR makes gentlemen, But in our culture CHARACTER make gentlemen “.

    Somehow today we are indulging in this cosmetic characterism, its like if u don’t dress fashionably, u aren’t respected.
    I have seen in these private sector banks, my god they wear heavy makeup, all of them have their hair straightened, some times i feel they are paid extra perks for dressing like that.

    I wish we could teach the right thing to our children.

    • R's Mom says:

      yes and Swami Vivekananda dressed very neatly.

      Well, as far as working professionals are concerned, I would never comment on them unless it goes into obscenity. But with teachers who are teaching impressionable minds I think its important they dress neatly 🙂

  8. Oh. my. God. I am dumbstruck. Not by the students thinking that their teachers are fashion disasters, but by the school taking them literally by their words and teaching fashion sense to the teachers, instead of making the children see light! I don’t see how a teacher’s looks are connected to the kind of education that he/she imparts. Of course, I am not saying that a teacher shouldn’t be neatly dressed in class. I wouldn’t want them to be fashionistas!!

    The other day, I was watching Neeya Naana – the Tamil talk show – and they were discussing the subject of pocket money. There was a debate between parents and children, and they were arguing over pocket money of their wards. That episode upset me, depressed me so much that all I could do that night was cuddle up to the OH and not say anything. I seriously had a second thought about having children after seeing that episode, and it took a long time for me to come back to normal. 😦 This article has the same depressing effect on me.

    PS: Your dad and mom sound like such a fun, cute couple. Red nailpolish and pleasantly plump, eh? How adorable! God bless them!

    • R's Mom says:

      oh sorry TGND…didnt intend to make you so upset.. can be fun..honestly…though at times, they are responisble for grey hairs like the brat I have 🙂

      I havent looked at the videos will do it over the weekend and mail you.

      Big big hugs to you

      PS – yes the parents can be romantic eh?

  9. This is the link to one part of the Neeya Naana episode, in case you are interested:

    There are more parts available on YouTube, in case you want to watch more.

  10. Sujatha says:

    I read that article through the hyperlink.. GOD wots happening !!
    **God! I am just praying its the latter.** me too

  11. Mathangi Vijay says:

    Hey Finally I am here!! After a long time and read all the posts I missed.. I really missed reading all the blogs, but work has been too painful and it looks to be so for another 10 days. Today luckily the system was down and I had some time..
    Ya totally agree with your post. I remember so many of my teachers so vividly even today. It was all because of the way they used to teach us and even today if I think that I am doing well in something that teacher comes in front of my eyes. We were never bothered about whether they were fashionably dressed. Being presentable is one thing and being fashionable is another. That depends on lots of factors like their family background etc. But if the school itself creates such a mentality on students then God save the Kids. In Singapore also there is a DPS and many of the parents here advised me not to put my kid there and now I am thankful to all those parents because of whom I did not put my son there. I definitely do not want my son to learn such things..

    • R's Mom says:

      Hope you get some time off..take care of yourself okie?

      Being presentable is one thing and being fashionable is another. – What I couldnt say in 1000 words you just said it in one sentence..this is what I wanted to say

  12. Oh dear. Once again, it’s about what women wear, isn’t it? We can’t win. Damned if we do, damned if we don’t. I want to smack that Angad kid…I worry about his future wife and the expectations she is going to have to live up to. And you are so right RM…the school rather than training teachers to dress in a more fashionable way should get these kids together and teach them that appearances are not everything. Sure, we are not talking about a teacher coming in their pyjamas to teach but as long as a teacher is professionally dressed and can TEACH, that is all that should matter.

    I remember at our school, there was a kindy teacher who was always very impeccably dressed but our maths teacher without make up and a no-nonsense attitude was still respected because of her knowledge and skills. I don’t even remember whether half the teachers wore nail polish or not for that matter!!!

  13. Smita T says:

    Its all about packaging these days… while I do not agree the observations of the kids… I can understand where they come from…. even when our kids go to school we do take care that they are dressed properly and look presentable…. take in case of your mom… she was always dressed properly and as you said never had a hair out of place…. even if the first impression is not good, and the teacher is reaaally good… then it would not matter… I remember we had very good maths/science teacher who had come to school in torn chappals for first whole month… first few days we giggled at her but then we realised she is so good that we forgot about the chappals and were totally absorbed in the subject…. so do we have such dedicated teachers who make kids forget everything but what she is teaching….

    • R's Mom says:

      But Smita, thats what na, being presentable is one thing, but to be fashionable, I dont agree..

      Yes, the quality of teachers is perhaps not what we had in earlier days, but at the end of the day, the chipped nails shouldnt matter eh?

  14. Sue says:

    I’ve been a part of enough school conversations about teachers who dressed well/badly/funnily but I think we made the most fun of the teachers who were not very good at their job. Then we started mocking at their clothes and mannerisms. Those who taught well, their eccentricities were cherished and lauded. Yes, kids can be cruel, it’s only human nature, but I think the school needs to work on the kids as well as its teachers. I hope this happens.

    • R's Mom says:

      yes yes..even I have done that Sue..but you are so started with people who were NOT good with their jobs…

      Kids can be cruel..yes I am learning that all over again now!

    • starsinmeyes says:

      I agree, Sue, we made fun of the teachers we did not like for their bad attitude or lousy teaching. The good teachers…we tried to copy their dressing style, whatever it was! I would not have liked the better teachers more if they dressed better, just like a lousy teacher dressing well would still be a lousy teacher. Is the person’s job to be eye candy or to teach and inspire?

  15. Sreetama says:

    This is really appalling. How come the children be so judgmental about their teachers on whom their future depends? I always admired the teachers who were simple in their appearance rather than those who decked up & came to school, as if they are coming to a party! That doesn’t mean I don’t like women who likes to make up, but in a sober way. DPS, which is a school of high repute should really focus on their pedagogy & syllabus rather than the teachers’ appearances.

  16. Archanachana says:

    I think I am one of the few who was shell-shocked to read this – eye-makeup? Lower slits? WHo has the bleddy time?? And how does it matter? I dont remember any of my teachers for their dressing sense. In fact, come to think of it, my favorite teacher was a polio infected tuition lady who was in nighty most of the time.
    BUt this reminds me of my (comparitively humble) school in Gujarat where a hindi teacher got a lot of flake from the “mean girls” for wearing purple lipstick and for wearing ill-fitting clothes.

  17. ashreyamom says:

    hmmm what do i say.. when kids are so demanding and notice nails also… i also dont accept shabby dressing, but looking pleasant is important.. again the taste varies from person to person. other end, the college profs are asked not to dress up fashionably as they might distract the teenagers. what say?? no end to this..

  18. Nidaa says:

    Hi5 RM… I dnt know how kids even find time to notice chipped nail polish & stuffs. Yea good observation skills and all. But I wonder- don’t they have games to play, pranks to plans or random chatter (that doesnt involve teachers makeover discussions)…
    Well, I don’t want to go into when I was a school girl tirade- you said everything thats on my mind :D) Not that I respected-loved my teachers simply because they were teachers or i was supposed to. There were a few I hated for their corporeal punishments (especially pinching/twisting ear, hitting knuckles with wooden scales), insults, & even lack of subject knowledge…
    I was placed in a primary school for my PG field work for counseling… But we just played games & my sessions were pretty noisy- in other words great fun :D! I used to wear skirts, capris, T-s and students never disrespected me… or loved me any less!
    May be the kids didnt care becz they were too young to notice what people wear?

    • R's Mom says:

      oh kids now a days are very very smart four year old notices that her Amma doesnt wear I guess thats something we cant talk about 🙂

      Glad you enjoyed in that primary school…it sounds like so much fun 🙂

  19. I think the whole outlook or the idea of Teachers-Teachings-Students-Schools has all changed .. It not about studying at all.. Its about MONEY …

    I started my career as a teacher and thank god i changed for the way i look at it I could not have survived as me being old school and what not ..

  20. Ashwathy says:

    Was just thinking about how much the student-teacher relationship has evolved over time. My grandfather was a lecturer and went on to become the principal of his own college. He was one of the most respected teachers I have seen, and I could quite relate to what you meant, when you said that 20 years later you would meet people on the road who have been taught by the same teacher. It was exactly the same and half of my childhood went in hanging around a grandfather who would constantly be stopped by delighted students on the road who still recognised him.

    It had drastically started changing even by the time I attended school. Kids had become impatient, and far more judgement (even cruel) to teachers. But even then fashion was the last thing to be judged upon. A good teacher commands respect by the way he or she is, NOT by his dressing style – and certainly not chipped nail polish!! Good grief 😯
    It’s saddening really 😦

    • Ashwathy says:

      But I do agree that a teacher should be well-dressed and presentable. Like most others pointed out, teaching is a job an when we go to office, we always dress well. But that is entirely different from having a fashion sense.

    • R's Mom says:

      Wow! your grandfather was an amazing person…

      Yaa…I agree on the fact that teachers should definitely be presentable..very important

  21. Jas says:

    My mom was a teacher. Though she never wore lipstick or eyeliner to school, she was still very much presentable and I think that’s important rather than having the perfect fashion sense. DPS complete lost the grip over the concept here.

  22. BongMom says:

    This really got my goat and I am fuming. I don’t even want to read that article. Which kid notices chipped nail polish if the class is engrossing I want to know. Huh!! Here I have seen all kinds of teachers for my daughters, some I love, some I like, some I am ok but never ever have I noticed their nail polish except for when they have unnecessary long nails garishly painted. And I do judge at first glance but it is those teachers with long nails and heavy makeup who are thankfully few and far in between.

  23. pixie says:

    how does it matter what they wear?! As long as they are decent, teach well and are the guiding force kids need in school?
    I remember some of my fave teachers in school were all impeccably dressed, but there was no latest fashion there!
    Of course, we had the fashionably dressed teachers as well, but it was never an issue with us kids…

  24. Vidya says:

    When I look back at my school days, I can recall instances where we were adored few teachers for several reasons, of which some were shallow like a particular teacher’s neatly starched cotton sarees and her long plait. Another for her sense of humour, another for her prowess in maths, another for her language and so on. But we never judged or despised anyone. This is something else! What is even more irritating is the school pandering to such silly, superficial attributes cited by the kids!

  25. starsinmeyes says:

    When I was looking around for schools, I paid a visit to DPS South, and just by seeing the parents who happened to be attending a PTA that day, I decided I didn’t want my daughter studying in a school where the parents dressed up that way and had a snobbish attitude (which shone clearly through)…am not surprised by the shallowness of this school. I’d tick those kids off left and right for talking like this about teachers.

    Once again it’s all about judgment of women’s dressing. I face this (albeit all unsaid) at my workplace too…luckily my office doesn’t hold workshops on fashionable dressing, it holds workshops on better working!!!

    • R's Mom says:

      But honestly Starry..DPS is one of the top schools..thats what I have heard…thats why I think I was even more disappointed..

      LOL on your office holding workshops..thats so nicely put

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