School dress codes nowadays have gotten extremely strict, regardless of what age group they are for. Most public schools have a dress code that specifically targets girls and teachers are not quick to hide the fact that they makes these rules about clothing because they think that clothing sexualizes girls and distracts guys. Being the target of “violations” for my “inappropriate” clothing made me upset more times than a few, especially when what I was wearing seemed to be more important to school administrators than my education. This all started in sixth grade and now that I am in college, I have had a lot of time to reflect on the dress codes at my previous schools and how backwards they were.
First off, I would like to give a shout out to the teacher in high school who consistently was on the lookout in the mornings for girls wearing “inappropriate” clothing, yet continued to wear leggings that were too tight on a routine basis. I also watched as she blatantly ignored the males who walked past her with tears in their jeans and hats on their heads. You showed me exactly what it is like to sexist and a hypocrite and as a woman you should be ashamed, because females have to fight so hard for their gender and you seemed to toss any cares you had away and targeted us.
And to both my middle school and my highschool, your dress codes were a joke. You made the rule that shirts had to be four fingers in width, which basically prevents tank tops from being worn. This didn’t stop the males from wearing muscle shirts and various tank tops and of course they were never called out, but if a female’s straps looked like they were even remotely too skinny they were forced to put a jacket on no matter how hot it was. All jeans, shorts, dresses and skirts had to be finger-tip length as well, which opened up an entirely new argument. My arms and legs happened to be a lot longer than my friends which meant my shorts always had to be four-five inches longer than theirs, and I wasn’t the only person with this problem. Meanwhile the males were walking around in “chubbies” and never had a word said to them even though their pants were shorter than most of ours.
And can we just take a minute to ponder over why ripped jeans are banned? Apparently the schools thought that if our pants had holes in them above the knees, males would somehow find a way into our pants and even putting tights or leggings under them didn’t make a difference because if there was one tiny rip above our knee caps we were sent to the front office and shamed in front of everybody. My junior year of highschool I watched as my teacher sent a girl to the front office on the first day of school because she was wearing leggings, and then sent her back again when she walked back in wearing ripped jeans that her mom had to come bring her to school. (Mind you, she probably just grabbed the first pair she saw out of her daughter’s closet without thinking “yes let me bring her some ripped jeans so boys can have fun!!!!” because that is a possibility.) Leggings and jeggings aren’t allowed either, something about how tight they are and how they show off our butts? I’m not exactly sure what the real reason ever was.
School administrators constantly placed the dress code over education. They would prefer that you spend hours waiting in an office for your parents to come bring you some new clothes than to be sitting in a classroom learning new things. They placed all of the blame on females, not keeping up with the dress code when it came to males. It was always us “distracting” them from getting an education because they could see our bra straps. Nobody ever stopped and asked them if they knew how wrong this was, even when it came down to the male teachers saying “this is uncomfortable to say but I need you to change your clothes.”Clothing is a form of expression. It is not a way of saying “hey look at me let’s have sex” much to the disbelief of teachers. I used to understand why there was a dress code in schools, but now that I am in college and we are allowed to wear whatever we would like, I see that not having a dress code does not mean that people will walk around looking like strippers. This is something that schools really need to start realizing, as well as to stop sexualizing young women simply because of what they are wearing.