Historically, a dress code has been in place in schools worldwide to promote a healthy learning environment with minimal distraction. However, the dress code has shifted to target those who choose to dress in “feminine” clothes; and clothing with offensive or inappropriate connotations often goes unnoticed and is rarely ostracized by administration.
Senior Grace Yagi experienced this double standard first hand. She was almost dress-coded for required cheer team attire at the same spirit rally where water polo boys run across the field practically naked. I’ve never seen them ushered to the office to change after doing so.
This year, administration has declared that they’re “cracking down” on dress code. They say something similar every year, but this year, they have legitimized their threats, actually enforcing their policy their stricter policy.
Dress code is generally problematic for a number of reasons, but perhaps the most offensive reason being that certain clothes can be “distracting” to a learning environment. I’m not referring to big flashy glasses or light up Christmas sweaters that are actually distracting; I’m referring to the exposed bra strap or half inch of torso.
There’s an argument that says that biology makes it impossible for heterosexual male students to keep focus around exposed skin which seems like a problem that is not for the female students to deal with. It’s nonsensical that female students should conform to standards of modesty because men can’t learn to control themselves.
Senior Erika Zlatkin feels that her decision to wear a tube top shouldn’t be labeled as a “distraction.” Are male students going to jump out of their seats and tackle girls at the sight of a bra strap? Are they going to get a lower grade because a belly button is too attractive to keep focus? No.
It seems like common sense to most of us that animalistic instincts in men aren’t triggered by a tiny bit of skin; so why doesn’t admin see it that way? Even if girls were physically attacked for their exposed bodies, it wouldn’t be their fault. Telling girls they need to cover up to stay safe pushes a dangerous idea that the treatment and worth of a woman is determined by her modesty. Why are we teaching girls to dress so that they aren’t attacked, rather than teaching boys not to attack?
Personally, I’ve seen students wearing “spaghetti” straps who were dress-coded, while a person a few feet away displaying drugs on their shirt, was not dress-coded. It’s also ironic how admin claims to be “cracking down” on drugs as well this year, yet they’re more concerned with exposed shoulders.
Obviously I’m not advocating for gross unprofessionalism in clothing, but a belly button is no longer outrageous; we live in the twenty-first century.
The punishment for dress code also includes wasting students’ class time by making them change into PE attire to wear for the rest of the day. In addition to this being incredibly unnecessary for most dress code violations, administration also submits students to being shamed. A student forced to wear the “punishment” clothes is also subjected to slut shaming among peers.
I’m not suggesting the dress code be completely abolished because I agree that it has some validity (especially in the case of clothing with gang or drug reference, or clothing that reveals ridiculous amounts of skin). All I ask is that the dress code is revised for twenty-first century standards of fashion and modesty. Times are changing, and our rules need to change with them.