Thursday, February 6, 2014

What the girls are wearing to school these days: Bolivia style

School has recently started up again after the end of summer break and the students are out in full force!  My own beloved "host neice" now attends school in the afternoons, which has cut into our playtime (ie me being bossed around time) tremendously.  And although I complain sometimes about the comments that come out of her mouth, which are typically a bit degrading of my spanish or how I dance (shfslafhdsla;fhdl;ah), I'm actually very sad about her new absence.  However, this new estrangement is not the reason for my blog.  Nope.  The reason for my blog is to tell you about the uniforms most of the girls wear here in Cochabamba (and maybe all over Bolivia??  Not a fact I'm exactly sure about...).  They wear what one of my teachers told me today is called a "guardapolvo" which translates loosly into English as "dust cover."  However, she thinks (and I agree with her) that a more discriptive translation would be "medical lab coat."  They are clean crisp white lab-looking jackets that the girls wear over a set of shorts and a t-shirt.  And accordinig to my teacher, the girls wear thier guardapolvos the entire school day, excepting gym class.  Below is a picture of my host neice looking VERY cute in her guardapolvo.  (Side note, most uniforms also include the elastic-necklace tie, navy socks (sometimes white), and black shoes.)

I asked my teacher where this tradition comes from, and she did not know.  However, she said that the school uniforms in Cochabamba have always looked this way for as long as she can remember.  Since most of the schools here are private, or at least semi-private, along with the uniform also comes a specific set of rules on how to look appropriate at school.  My teacher told me that in most schools, boys are not allowed to wear their hair long (in fact many will get a hair cut a couple days before school starts), they're not allowed to wear earrings or other facial ornamentation, and in many schools girls are not allowed to wear make-up or style their hair "crazy" (she couldn't give me an exact definition of crazy...).  But not to worry, she also told me that nose rings *in girls only* are probably allowed :)

So there you go.  Apparently the Bolivian government is talking about getting rid of uniforms all together next year, but my teacher doesn't think that will actually happen.  She says the schools already have their hands full keeping the students "looking presentable" (ie without make-up, piercings, "crazy" hair, too-short guardapolvos, etc) WITH the wide-spread wearing of guardapolvos.  She can't imagine what mayhem would break loose if the students were allowed to wear "street clothing" to school.  I told her from my experience, it's not always a pretty sight ;)


  1. Thanks for the blog -- I've read every post. So enjoying your adventures from my desk. This school uniform looks like the ones my father wore in Italy as a child -- maybe they are southern European in origin?

  2. That unknown comment was from me. -- Paola