Have Dress Codes Gone Too Far?
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Politics and Activism

Have Dress Codes Gone Too Far?

The overly strict enforcement of dress codes may be sending the wrong message to young women.

Have Dress Codes Gone Too Far?

My son can’t concentrate in school and it’s your daughter’s fault. She’s wearing a tank top and her shoulders are exposed! Her shirt is exposing too much collarbone! And her tank top strap isn’t three fingers wide. She has to be sent home so that no one will be distracted by her.

This type of thing actually occurs with modern day dress codes that are enforced with girls in school. Girls are being targeted for making harmless clothing choices. The rules of boys' dress codes would fill up half of a page while the rules of a girl's dress code would probably fill the entirety of the Encyclopaedia Britannica. These types of policies teach damaging lessons to girls at a young age. It is the same old thing time after time: girls need to dress so as to not distract men.

Boys are never asked to dress with girls in mind. Ever. The blatant divide promotes not only sexism but the sexualization of girls. In an already hypersexualized society, dress codes add insult to injury. The fact that boys are rarely ever disciplined compounds the problem. Dress codes are often established for purposes other than attacking what girls wear. An article by Amel Ahmed of Al Jazeera America explains that the premise of dress codes seems to be a mere facade:

“While dress codes have historically served multiple purposes, including minimizing differences in socioeconomic class, according to Sandil, there are risks that they can single out girls as objects of distraction — in a sense blaming the victim.”

Recently, occurrences of girls being sent home for minor dress code infractions have garnered attention in the media. Stephanie Hughes, a high school student at Woodford County High School in Kentucky was actually sent home for exposing too much collarbone. In a comment about why the girl's collarbone was being targeted specifically, the Woodford County principal commented:

"Our school administration has been very open with students and parents alike, that if they feel like changes need to be made, they are open to suggestions. It just needs to be measurable so that it can be consistently enforced.The whole idea behind the dress code is to make sure you have a safe learning environment and that's what we're trying to create."

The strict nature of dress codes such as this one sends a very implicit message of culturally ingrained inequalities between boys and girls. The message that dress codes send girls is to dress modestly while modern culture tells them differently. The conflicting messages become confusing and burdensome. Silencing girls into passivity sends a flawed message to them: it's your fault if boys can't control themselves.

What is your opinion on dress codes? Are they out of control or necessary?

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