February 10th, 2017 Edition #118
It finally happened.
The Salvation Army’s women’s uniform has officially changed.
The days of the skirt with those awkward “gasping for air” tight pantyhose is finally over.
The skirt has finally gone the way of the bonnet and the high collar uniform.
Some say that it is about time, while others claim this is the beginning of the end for our Army. Either way, the change in uniform policy has come, and time will tell how it will effect our army.
One officer brazenly indicated that with the expiration of the uniform skirt the equality within the sexes could finally be realized.
Is this true?
Could we be seeing all additional walls between “official” roles torn down all because of the death of the skirt?
Could it have been that simple?
Some would contend that officer leadership roles had already begun changing well before this uniform adjustment, but I recently sat down with a few female officers to discuss just how this new policy change will effect all gender roles within the Army.
So, tell me about this new uniform policy?
“Well, I don’t know about everyone here, but I am absolutely thrilled to see the army finally taking this modern step forward! I can’t tell you how good it feels to not be required to wear those constricting pantyhose at official events and other occasions. I mean numerous changes have occurred within the men’s uniform shirts over the years but THIS change is just remarkable!”
Looking back, what sort of rationale did you hear of in regards to why the Skirt/Panyhose and High Heels were required for “Full Uniform”?
“Oh, there were a lot of interesting reasons that I have heard. Some of the craziest were –
-‘The tunic does not look good without the skirt.’
-‘If women no longer wore skirts they wouldn’t know how to sit ladylike anymore.’…
…”One person even told me: ‘I don’t have a problem with it, so why should you?‘
“Another one I have personally heard was, ‘You can wear pants in the office, so it’s not like you NEVER get to wear them.’
…Someone told me once, ‘Skirts are more formal than pants…’ To which I said, “then why don’t men need to wear them too, for the sake of formality?”
-‘Skirts are feminine, pants are not.’ They told us that we needed heels so that we stood ‘more erect’ and had a better frame.” (In response to this comment another woman added, “Are men required to wear something that requires them to stand ‘more erect’ and have a better frame?”)
Why is this new change in uniform so important? Are there any opportunities now that you have that you didn’t while in the skirt?
“I always hated that it impaired my ability to play drums on Sundays. It was frustrating having a talent and not being used because I was uncomfortable playing a drum set with my legs wide open in a skirt.”
“I already see a difference in my own life, I used to get swollen feet/legs at the end of the day and now I don’t. I was always concerned about my back and my health when wearing heels because of the skirt. Now that I don’t wear the heels anymore, my back pain and worry for my health is also gone!”
“Prison ministry is certainly different now, I no longer have to wear the skirt and personally I feel less like an object while in this specific ministry!”
“I don’t get judged anymore by other women officers by the length of my skirt…that used to always drive me crazy when someone would tell me my skirt was too long or too short…that kind of judgment is gone now!”
“I used to have to do nursery work from time to time during the holiness meeting and inevitably I would be holding a child and their Velcro strapped shoes would catch on my nylons…I always ran them…now I don’t have that problem…and that certainly saves me some money on more nylons every week!”
“I have seen a difference in some of our women soldiers in our corps. Some were never keen on wearing the skirt when in full uniform, but since this change, they are back in full uniform on Sundays!”
“I used to fall a lot while in high heels. I even twisted my ankle a time or two, once rather severely. Now I wear flats with my uniform pants and I can’t tell you how good that feels, and I’m sprain free!”
So I’m hearing you say there are a lot of opportunities now, do you think this effects the way others see women performing official “Officer” roles?
“Absolutely! I think the uniform skirt put certain limits on us at times. I believe there is an element of respect that comes with wearing pants with full uniform that we didn’t have before. This is all new, but I have already seen the positive effects this change has had on my ministry and my leadership as an officer.”
What would you say to someone who wants to bring back the skirt or is clinging to this now obsolete uniform?
“I think the army made the right choice in this new policy, but I think if someone still wants to wear the skirt, no one should stop them from doing so as long as they don’t look down their noses at the rest of us wearing our uniform pants in full uniform.”
“I always felt a little bit judged by people, most of the time it was other women in uniform, who had this kind of ‘standard’ that they seemingly forced on all the other women around them while wearing their skirt and pantyhose… I don’t think that is going to change much now it will just mean they are judging us according to how we wear this new full uniform. But I would say that if you want to cling to the old uniform great, just don’t judge us by your standards…isn’t that kind of what the pharisees used to do?”
Well, there you have it.
Those that I talked with about this new uniform policy change seem to really like it.
The impression that I got from these women was that this is a good thing, and that some gender barriers are now down (assumed or recognized) within the identity of the Army as a whole.
Will this be the end of the army? I don’t think so. The Salvation Army has changed often within its 152 years, and I believe that it will certainly adapt as we move forward in the battle of saving souls and serving suffering humanity…and who knows, perhaps we will look back at this moment in our history and say “that was a minor event in this mighty army for Christ, or perhaps it will be said that this was a mighty turning point in gender equality and leadership roles. Who knows, perhaps time will tell.
***A satirical article from a non-existent news source in the future…who knows…it could happen!***