Unfair Dress Codes

Photo credit: https://www.flickr.com/photos/codnewsroom/32376674163

Photo credit: https://www.flickr.com/photos/codnewsroom/32376674163

Mariah Draper, Writer

While attending  school, have you been told that the outfit you were wearing was inappropriate? According to nces.ed.gov, 63.5% of middle schools have enforced a strict dress code. Schools all over the US set dress codes to keep students wearing appropriate clothing.  However, dress codes are unfair because they focus more on girls’ than boys’

Dress codes vary based on the school and age group. Middle school dress codes will be different from high school dress codes. I attended Sheldon Elementary school from sixth to eighth grade,  and our dress code consisted of not wearing shorts any shorter than a dollar above your knee, or students’ fingertips had to be able to touch the end of their shorts when they are down by their side. If students wanted to wear a tank top, its straps had to be a three-finger width. Crop tops or shirts that showed belly skin were not allowed. These dress codes are based more on girls’ clothing than boys’. If you showed up to school with clothing that didn’t follow the dress code, you would be asked to go to the nurse and wear used clothes that they had available, or you could call your parents and they could bring you a change of clothes. When it’s hot outside, why should girls’ have to wear a cardigan over their tank top, and why do they have to wear long shorts or jeans so that they follow the dress code?

In Auckland, New Zealand’s Henderson High School, principal Cherith Telford told 40 female students that their “skirts would need to be lowered to knee length in order to ‘keep our girls safe, stop boys from getting ideas and create a good work environment for male staff.'”  This is not what girls should have to deal with when going to school. Students shouldn’t have to worry if they create a good work environment for the male staff. A student’s’ job is to learn, not to worry about if the outfit they are wearing is going to be good for the male teachers’ work environment.

When wearing a plain tank top, for example, there is no act of violence.  A girl’s choice of clothing is a way to express themselves. By the clothing girls’ wear, they aren’t asking to be violated or asking anyone to be violent. Teachers shouldn’t be looking at their students in a sexual way as girls are there to learn, not to be sexualized. According to www.washingtonpost.com, actress Reagan Gomez, who attended Henderson High, said “it wasn’t the responsibility of the girls to avoid being a temptation to grown men.” 

According to www.time.com, a student had worn leggings underneath her dress. Leggings were a dress code violation for the school she attended, and her dress wasn’t fingertip length. The student’s teacher called the student  out and told the student that she wasn’t respecting herself. As girls’ leggings are comfortable, they aren’t being worn to get attention. Girls are just trying to dress in clothes they feel comfortable in. Wearing leggings has nothing to do with respecting ourselves. Teachers are there to teach, they aren’t there to degrade girls or say the outfit girls choose to wear is them disrespecting themselves.

I have had someone tell me, based on my outfit, that I was disrespecting myself. The only thing disrespecting me was them. I was only wearing that outfit to express myself, and I thought it looked good. I wasn’t looking for someone to look at me and sexualize me or call me names based on my outfit. Dress codes are what have the effect on people. We should be able to feel comfortable in school and not have to worry about being sexualized, name called or be told we aren’t respecting ourselves.

Dress codes focus more on the clothing that girls wear. Girls should be able to go to school wearing what they are comfortable in without being sexualized. Dress codes need to be changed to focus on both genders. Dress codes should be talked about and discussed in school. Students should be able to have a say on dress codes and help decide what the dress code will look like.