Ibiza Is A Place Of Adolescent Wardrobe Freedom of Expression

Teaching English at a high school in Ibiza turns out is a lot like what I imagined it would be like going to high school in California. Us Indiana kids, we were sure smitten by the O.C. (Who are you? Whoever you want me to be… [WHO SAID IT?])

I always imagined kids in California would hang out on their two story, motel-like school with an open courtyard in the middle,  throw things at other kids, you know, that kind of stuff.  Kids come to school walking, on bikes, or on skateboards. They smoke weed before class. They go to bonfires on the weekends.

I imagined they dressed like they do in Hollywood movies, like She’s All That  or Get Over It.

This illustration was in one of the 16 year-old kids Spanish novels. You can imagine the field day they had with that.

Oddly enough, my high school in Ibiza is eerily reminiscent of such stereotypes I held as an adolescent.

Sometimes it feels like there are absolutely no rules. As if it was a giant free-for-all.

Especially when it comes to the dress code.

It’s not so much that I am judging their rules or way of educating the children. Rather, it is more surprising because this idea of wearing-whatever-you-want was so foreign to me as a teenager.

I’ve never seen so many naked female bodies on teenage boys’ shirts. Am I offended by the female body? Absolutely not. Am I offended by the way they wear it and degrade it? Absolutely.

Many of the girls wear next-to-nothing. I do wonder if their exposed bellies get chilly. The good news is, there is very little shaming of what girls wear and very little of the “she’s distracting the boys with her exposed body” speech. Right on!

I remember being scrutinized to no end in junior high and high school. I was constantly being asked to measure the length of my skirts or reevaluate the “skimpiness” of my blouses. I found it humiliating and offensive, and I am happy that my students don’t have to go through the same.

This shirt is polemical. But, at least the girl’s face is showing. It’s a little less dehumanizing.

Even teachers dress much more informal that I would have expected. I’ve seen male teachers wearing tracksuits (no, not the gym teacher) and sandals and female teachers in see-through leggings and low-cut shirts. I personally feel more relaxed in this type of work-environment.

Girls and boys alike are generally into graphic tees, timberlands, scarves, and anything that has to do with marijuana or Ibiza clubs like Amnesia or Space.

One of the habits of my Ibicenco teens I particularly enjoy is that of wearing “neck scarves.” Imagine a headband, or piece of fabric that looks like it was cut off from a turtleneck, and then placed on your neck to keep you from catching a cold. Not quite a scarf, yet too thick to be a headband.

My friend Lisa, who had never seen them before, asked one of her teachers.
She asked, “What are those exactly?”
To which the teacher replies, “Bragas del cuello. You know, panties of the neck!”

While I still haven’t been able to snag a panties of the neck photo, I have attempted throughout the year to take photos of my favorite wardrobe choices by my students. Sadly, I can’t sneak it all the time. But when I can, I do. Here are some that I was able to capture.

She’s a boss
Reads: “Good girls go to heaven, bad girls go to Ibiza” – she later asked me what it meant.
All time favorite of a student who greets me with “HELLO ALLISON HOW ARE YOU” in a weird robotic voice
A pleasant surprise to see this

Do you teach English abroad? What are some of your students favorite wardrobe choices?


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