Dress Code Debacle
I was on Youtube the other day, and noticed a video about a school's dress code in another state and how it was extremely strict. I thought for a while about our school’s dress codes and realized something. Girls have always had a stronger dress code than boys, ever since elementary school. As girls, we live with the extremely high expectations to cover every little visable inch of skin, but what really is the reason for that?
Our dress codes include things like, “no visible underwear”, “no spaghetti straps”, “shorts and skirts must be long enough to meet the middle of your hand ”, “pants must fit and be worn to cover underwear and at the waist or just below the waist height (no taller)”, “no tights, leggings, or tight fitting clothes may be worn”, “no slogans, emblems, or advertising on clothing”, “no bare midriffs, backs or transparent see through tops”, “no bandanas”, and “earrings (hoops) must be smaller than two and a half inches in diameter”. Then there’s the boy’s dress code. “no hats or hoods inside classrooms”, no slogans, emblems, or advertising on clothing”, and “no sagging of the pants to where others can see underwear”. I thought about this and realized that the way girls have been treated for years has always been different than the way boys have treated, and even after we fought for equal rights and equal pay we were still deprived the same lives as boys. This reminded me of something my grandma told me. When my grandmother was a teacher, about 30 years ago or so, she could only wear dresses, and those dresses had to reach the top of the knee or below. She also had to wear kitten-heels no taller than 2.5 inches. She also was not allowed to show her shoulders or collar bone, and if she did, she was told to put on a cardigan and go home. She was always required to wear pantyhose, no matter what. If she failed to follow one or more of these rules, she was sent home. Though our dress codes don’t have the same requirements and we don’t get sent home, we still have the punishment of having to change at school into PE clothes and the equally but more modern harsh requirements.
As I watched farther into the video, I noticed an article to which I read. This article was all about this one adult woman who followed 8 US dress codes for one week. She is heard saying once in the video, “I have worn some of these clothes to job interviews and they were completely professional and appropriate, but yet they are not appropriate for a high school dress code.” This really makes you think about the way girls are treated in high schools all over the country. One school in particular was incredibly over the top, almost to the point of her not being able to go to work without violating it. This dress code is from Duncan High School in Duncanville, Texas. This dress code read, “Tops (without collars) must be a solid color (no designs, emblems, or logos), all skirts must reach the bend of the knee, no shorts or skorts after grade 4, all shirts must have sleeves that cover the shoulder, and all pants must be substantial material.” This ruled out 35 of her 40 clothes in her closet, leaving her to wear a sleep shirt and jeans to work that day.
I have read our dress code up and down many times and still don’t completely get the reasons for not being able to wear the majority of those things. As kids there is always the thought drilled into our heads that girls may not wear clothes that would sexualize their bodies, and that would “distract” boys from learning. Why are we responsible as kids for what other people think of the clothes we wear, if we feel comfortable in it, shouldn’t we be allowed to wear it? I later did some more research into the topic and saw another article called “Girls are Using #IfAnythingSchoolTaughtMe To Talk About The Real Issues With Dress Codes” written by Augusta Falletta from Buzzfeed. Throughout the article it posts tweets saying things like, “#ifanythingschooltaughtme that dress codes and hairstyles are more important than education.” and “teachers would rather you be dressed “correctly” than you succeed. #ifanythingschooltaughtme” there were even celebrities like Casper Lee (Youtuber) who took to twitter to express opinions like, “#ifanythingschooltaughtme that long hair is for girls and short hair is for boys and there is no in between.” and “#ifanythingschooltaughtme that we shouldn’t express our individuality outwardly. Uniforms, no piercings, no makeup, no cool hairstyles. Phft.” from Melanie Murphey (Social Media Personality).
We as girls are always taught to keep our sexuality to ourselves and not express who we are, but #timesup folks, we need to stand for what we believe in whether you agree with dress codes or not. We are not just objects, okay with being thrown around in order for boys to focus in class, we are people too and we are ready to take a stand for our equal rights.