Are Dress Codes Really A Problem? Yes They Are

Have you ever heard guys say “dude, that bra strap is so distracting” or “why is she wearing short shorts it’s taking me away from the learning”, is it really a distraction or is that just what you make it out to be? We’re teenagers, everything is distracting. Notice that it’s hot out, we need to be comfortable, if guys can wear shorts why can’t we, can you tell me that? I don’t see the problem with wearing shorter shorts and spaghetti straps as long as our butts and our actual chest are not hanging out, but if it’s just our shoulders and our legs, why in the world should it be a problem? Exactly, it shouldn’t; dress codes are sexist, humiliating, they hypersexualize girls and they need to be changed. You may hear people saying that girls are the problem because we “distract guys” and “turn guys on”, but that hypersexualizes us and it’s telling young girls that we simply MUST cover our bodies because they are inherently “sexual”, and that’s not okay. Can someone tell me the real reason behind thinking that girls are the object and boys are the consumer? Because that is exactly the message you send out when you ban skinny jeans, leggings and yoga pants as stated in Jennifer Weiss-Wolf’s article, because they’re “too tight and too sexual”, for example the school in North Dakota did this exact thing because they distracted boys and apparently male faculty too much…Because that’s not uncomfortable at all. We have asked the boys at our school and most if not all agreed that our clothing is not distracting, we came to a mutual understanding among students and administrators that the real distractions are 1) everything that is happening in our lives and 2) the way the flow of the class is disrupted when students are getting pulled out by other teachers or when the phone rings for a student because everyone wants to know about who’s calling, why are they calling, and who are they calling for? A girl’s confidence is diminished with the way people combat her body image, but what’s really the problem is the way administrators are dealing with dress code violations; public humiliation. Also stated in Jennifer Weiss- Wolf’s article, a school in Florida has decided their punishment would be to place the dress code violator in an oversized, neon shirt emblazoned with the words “dress code violation”.

This type of public humiliation hits particularly close to the heart when you think about the way the student may receive disapproving looks from staff or peers as they pass in the hallway. Studies show this kind of public humiliation can lead to mental illnesses and eating disorders such as depression, anorexia and bulimia. These mental illnesses are linked by the APA to body shaming that is accompanied by teachers calling dress code violators “skanks” and comparing them to prostitutes from the popular movie Pretty woman as mentioned in Jennifer Weiss-Wolf’s article. When people say that dress codes target boys too it makes me want to smack them. Dress codes disproportionately target girls.

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Tell me how often do you see boys getting dress coded for wearing tight shirts that show off every inch of their muscles or when they wear muscle tees, completely exposing their sides. Girls get dress coded for wearing yoga pants, shorts and crop tops that honestly do not reveal all that much of our midriff. While there is photographic evidence, shown in Laci Green’s dress code sexism video, of boys wearing shirts emblazoned with degrading sexual phrases. May I add are they are not in trouble for their shirt but girls are in trouble for crop tops and shorts. Someone once stated “I haven’t witnessed staff shaming somebody”, well let me tell you what I have to say to that; just because you don’t notice doesn’t mean it’s not happening.

People need to wake up and realize that it’s embarrassing to get dress coded because you feel like there’s something wrong with your body so someone wants to conceal it, that’s not fair and certainly not aiding the self confidence of young girls everywhere. Tell me this, why are girls always “the problem”? By using the phrase “boys will be boys” we are normalizing predatory behavior and saying that boys can’t help themselves. Well did you ever think that maybe if we taught our boys better and didn’t implant the idea into their minds that girls are supposed to cater to their every whim and become entirely submissive the minute they snap their fingers, we wouldn’t be experiencing this? These sexist and humiliating acts can not sustain a healthy relationship between students and administrators. They also create complications for young girls to maintain a healthy frame of mind about themselves and their body image. There’s so much talk about how we have to protect the education of young children but many don’t realize that pulling girls out of class is impairing their education.

These accomodations for boys can not legally come at the expense of girls’ education. This needs to be ended; now.