Dress codes have always been a point of controversy in schools all around the US, but when we think about why people seem to have different opinions. Some people say that dress codes are needed to hold kids to a higher standard and encourage them to dress in a more professional manner, but when we think of all the controversial cases with dress codes they always have to do with the same people, girls. In all my time in the public-school system in Virginia, I have not only experienced but seen tons of girls send home for wearing clothing that the average person would see as being perfectly normal.
From skirts and shorts that are a hair too short to top’s that god forbid show any signs of shoulders or collar bones. When we think about why schools have these specific and strict policies the same answer comes from almost every single one, well it’s a distraction. A distraction?? Really?? Are we still going to use that excuse to justify objectifying a girl’s body? What exactly makes a shoulder or a thigh so distracting, and why aren’t we instead making sure that boys know how to focus properly. When we tell girls to cover up, we are not only objectifying their bodies, but we are also degrading boys by assuming that none of them can control themselves.
Lets also talk about the double standards between boys and girls on school dress codes as well. When I look back at my time as a student, I can vividly remember many cases where girls were called out on violations far more than guys. If your going to hold students to a standard, you need to make sure that it evenly applies to all students regardless of gender. For example, at my past high school girls who had shirts that were shorter than three finger tips at the strap were sent to the office and couldn’t return without either having a parent bring a new top or were forced to wear an old gym shirt. On the other hand, guys were able to wear muscle tanks with large cuts on the sides without hearing any complaints.
Finally, lets talk about how punishments are taken too far in these dress code violations. In most cases girls who break dress code are asked to change before they can come back to class, but in some cases it isn’t that simple. In many different cases girls have not only been asked to change but might also have a in school or out of school suspension. When we start to use these harsh punishments against girls we away learning opportunities that can not only effect their grades but also hurt their self esteem. No girl should have her opportunity to learn taken away from her just because of something as trivial as the thickness of a strap.
When we ridicule girls for showing skin while embarrassing them, we aren’t empowering them to be stronger women. These strict rules only make young girls feel guilt about their bodies which isn’t something any teen girls should have to deal with.
Want to hear more about different ridculous dress code violations? Check out this article by Seventeen about the 14 Most Outragous Dress Code Scandals, or this video by PopSugar that shows how dress codes are sexist.
4 thoughts on “Sexism in Dress Codes”
I’m curious, @justasubparfeminist — What inspired you to write this post?
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I was mainly inspired by all the double standards that were pressed on girls in my highschool. Girls that had skirts or shorts that were even the slightest bit too short were always called out, but whenever boys would muscle tees with open side slits nobody seems to care. I also thought it was super unfair to girls with longer arms since our school did hands down to measure if something was too short.
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This also made me think about how curvier girls got in trouble a lot more often than thinner girls, so with gender discrimination follows body discrimination! Sexualization happens at such a young age and it’s crazy how prominent these codes still are all around the country.
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In my high school, we weren’t allowed to have holes in our jeans above the point where our fingertips stopped when we put our arms down. To fix this, they’d have people posted at the front doors with rolls of NEON DUCT TAPE that we’d have to put over the tiny ass holes in our jeans. What’s more distracting: a shoulder? or the bright pink duct tape on a girl’s jeans?