Dress Code

Oh no. A 16-year-old writing about her opinions on dress codes in schools and how it’s not fair she can’t show up to class wearing clothes that cover about as much as a bikini would. Might as well get out now.

Don’t worry, that’s not what this is about. Well, maybe a little bit, but I like to think I’m a little more tasteful.

First off, I’d like you to know I believe dress codes in schools are completely reasonable (in theory.) I do think that schools are places of education, and should be treated professionally. As with any job you’re expected to be presentable. Showing up to work with your butt cheeks hanging out probably wouldn’t get you a promotion (well, I guess that depends on the kind of boss you have.) Despite the obvious necessity of dress codes in schools, I do think that there is something very wrong with the way they work.

1. Dress codes are sexest.

Sorry, but it’s true. Now I get that most teenage boys aren’t going to have an issue with hiding cleavage, but it’s a little unfair the way they are treated when compared to girls. In my school, here’s what goes down: A girl wears a dress that’s too short and she’s forced to changed (or, if she’s unable to change, sent home) and given a detention. A boy sags and he’s scolded in the hallway by the teacher to “make a better clothing choice next time.”

I think there’s something wrong with that. What ever happened to equal treatment?

2. Dress codes are objectifying

At the beginning of each school year we have an assembly laying out school rules. When we get to dress code, here’s what goes down:

“Boys, please don’t sag. Also, no sunglasses.”

“Girls, you need to respect your bodies. Boys are going to look at you if you dress scandalously, because boys will be boys. You need to cover up even if it’s hot out. No matter how tall or short you are, the school rule is all shorts/skirts/dresses must come down to at least your fingertips. Too much cleavage is unacceptable. If you start showing off your body, your peers will look down upon you. You might even be called a whore. People will laugh behind your backs on top of the school consequences, which are a referral home and a detention.”

Boys will be boys.

My school actually said that in the assembly. If there is one phrase I hate more than anything, it’s that. Because all it’s saying is that boys have the right to objectify and sexualize girls for perfectly normal body parts. How about instead of shaming girls for their bodies, we teach the guys that girls aren’t sexual objects? It’s wrong for the whole thing to be one-sided. The other thing that gets me is “you need to cover up even if it’s hot out.” So, what you’re saying here is, boys can dress for the weather, but girls need to hide themselves even if it’s uncomfortable. Let me say it again: GIRLS ARE NOT OBJECTS. We aren’t dolls who can be dressed up any way you want. We have feelings and ideas and yes, we have discomfort in heat. I’m not saying it’s ok for us to show up naked, but some slack seriously needs to be cut. If it’s 90 degrees one day, girls should be allowed to wear shorter shorts.

3. Dress codes are lazy

The rule at my school is that bottoms need to be to/past your fingertips. Well, that’s awesome for short girls, but I’m 5’9″. No shorts I have found go to my fingertips. If they do, they’re the awkwardly long kind that every girl I know wore in middle school. I don’t like them. The solution? Proportionate dress code. The rule: If your legs are __ long your shorts need to be __ inches. Wow. How difficult. It bothers me how little thought has been put into the dress code, yet girls are expected to put thought into every clothing item they buy to follow it.

Sorry if I’m ranting, but if I have to follow a rule it better damn well be thought out. I do believe dress codes are necessary, they just need to be revised. Would that really be so hard? Why can’t schools find it in them to stop treating girls like objects and boys like saints? We’re in the 21st century. You can’t put us all in frocks and dresses and corsets anymore.




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