High School Dress Codes Are Sexist and Damaging
Start writing a post
Student Life

School Dress Codes Tell Girls To Hide Their Bodies When They Should Be Teaching Boys To Stop Objectifying Women

Schools need to change the way they think about girls and what they wear.

School Dress Codes Tell Girls To Hide Their Bodies When They Should Be Teaching Boys To Stop Objectifying Women

I have been out of high school for three years now. But recently my friend and I had a conversation about the high school we went to and I was reminded of my near-detention-experience when I first moved there.

And let me tell you, being reminded of the time you hated your body the most and had the least confidence is not fun.

However, my reflection on this experience made me realize just how sexist high school dress codes really are and how damaging they can be to a young girl's body image.

I moved to Florida (from Chicago) just before my sophomore year of high school. I definitely wasn't used to the heat.

During the first week of school, I wore shorts that were above mid-thigh ⁠— the general limit for shorts in most high schools ⁠— and no one said anything to me, so the next week, I wore the same shorts again.

As I was walking to my first class, a man who worked for the school (I wasn't sure what his job was) yelled "Hey you!" at me. After realizing he was referring to me, I went over to him and he told me that my shorts were too short and handed me a referral.

I had no idea what a referral meant because my old school didn't have that system, but my friend told me that it was definitely not good.

Later in the school day, I was called out of class. I went to the office of some higher-up in the school and he told me that I would have to go to detention later that week.

I broke down. It was my first week at a new school in an entirely new state. I felt lost and lonely and now I had detention on top of all that. I had been a great student all my life and I was terrified this would reflect badly on my future.

All for wearing shorts that I had worn the week before.

Though I was still crying like crazy, I had to report back to my class. Luckily it was during choir, where my director helped me stop sobbing by doing breathing exercises with me until I had returned to normal.

I felt like a pile of garbage for the rest of the day and recounted what had happened to my parents when I got home. My mom was enraged and called the principal. Usually, I would get embarrassed by my mom fighting my battles for me, but this time I let her.

The next day, I got called out of class again to meet with the principal and he apologized, telling me that I wouldn't have to go to detention but to not do it again.

Though I was relieved I didn't have to go to detention, the damage had already been done. I stopped wearing those kinds of shorts because obviously if the school thought they were slutty, they must have been slutty.

From sophomore year until halfway through senior year, I only wore capris and baggy cargo or jean shorts (even outside of school). They were unflattering and made me feel ugly. I went on thinking I just wasn't cut out for the whole "being pretty" thing for two years.

I'm not saying that this experience gave me self esteem issues. Those were already there. But it just confirmed my fears and insecurities. I was taught that wearing what made me feel good and showing my body was shameful and wrong.

It took a long time to break out of that.

But when reflecting on the experience as an adult, I realize that it goes even deeper than that.

Why are high school girls not allowed to show their shoulders, thighs, and back? Because that might distract the hormonal boys from their schoolwork.

I was pulled out of class twice ⁠— which distracted me from my education ⁠— because of the possibility of my thighs distracting a boy from his education. This implies that a boy's education was more important than mine.

Frankly, if a boy's getting turned on by a girl's shoulders, that's his problem, not hers.

Whether it was the intended purpose or not, dress codes teach young girls that their bodies are shameful distractions to boys that need to be hidden in order to be accepted.

How about instead of teaching girls to hide their bodies, they teach boys to respect women and not objectify them?

I hope that in the future, schools make their dress codes and the way they enforce them more equal to all genders so that young girls can be spared the issues I (and so many other women everywhere) went through.

Their bodies are their home forever, so they should be taught to love them, not hide.

Report this Content
This article has not been reviewed by Odyssey HQ and solely reflects the ideas and opinions of the creator.

A Letter To My Heartbroken Self

It will be okay, eventually.

A Letter To My Heartbroken Self

Breakups are hard. There's nothing comparable to the pain of losing someone you thought would be in your life forever. Someone who said all the right things at the right times. Someone who would give you the reassurance you needed, whenever you needed it. And then one day, it just... stops. Something changes. Something makes you feel like you're suddenly not good enough for him, or anyone for that matter.

Keep Reading... Show less

2026: the year the Fifa World Cup Returns to North America

For the first time since 1994 the United States will host a world cup (for men's soccer)

2026: the year the Fifa World Cup Returns to North America
Skylar Meyers

The FIFA World Cup is coming to North American in 2026!

Keep Reading... Show less
Student Life

An Open Letter to Winter

Before we know it April will arrive.


Dear Winter,

Keep Reading... Show less
Student Life

6 Questions To Ask Yourself When Cleaning Up Your Room

This holiday break is the perfect time to get away from the materialistic frenzy of the world and turn your room into a decluttered sanctuary.


Cleaning isn’t just for spring. In fact, I find school’s holiday break to be a very effective time for decluttering. You’re already being bombarded by the materialistically-infatuated frenzy of society’s version of Christmas, Hanukah, etc. It’s nice to get out of the claustrophobic avarice of the world and come home to a clean, fresh, and tidy room. While stacking up old books, CDs, and shoes may seem like no big deal, it can become a dangerous habit. The longer you hang onto something, whether it be for sentimental value or simply routine, it becomes much harder to let go of. Starting the process of decluttering can be the hardest part. To make it a little easier, get out three boxes and label them Donate, Storage, and Trash. I'm in the middle of the process right now, and while it is quite time consuming, it is also so relieving and calming to see how much you don't have to deal with anymore. Use these six questions below to help decide where an item gets sorted or if it obtains the value to stay out in your precious sanctuary from the world.

Keep Reading... Show less

Why I Don't Write (Or Read) An "Open Letter To My Future Husband/Wife"

Because inflated expectations and having marriage as your only goal are overrated.

Urban Intellectuals

Although I have since changed my major I remember the feverish hysteria of applying to nursing school--refreshing your email repeatedly, asking friends, and frantically calculating your GPA at ungodly hours of the night. When my acceptance came in I announced the news to friends and family with all the candor of your average collegiate. I was met with well wishes, congratulations, and interrogations on the program's rank, size, etc. Then, unexpectedly, I was met with something else.

Keep Reading... Show less

Subscribe to Our Newsletter

Facebook Comments