The Real Impact Of School Dress Codes

The Real Impact Of School Dress Codes

Is policing a dress code worth the lasting negative impact?

Every so often, a picture of a girl in an outfit she wore to school will circulate around Facebook. The outfit has been discriminated against from a school's administration for being what they consider to be "immodest." Either a parent or the girl herself will write a long post about the absurdity of being taken out of school for showing too much knee or too much collarbone. While dress codes seem simple to those that enforce them, they have negative impacts that are hidden under the surface.

The real problem of school dress codes is not the fact that they exist, but the reasoning behind having them in the first place, as well as the administration that enforce it. The corruptive reasoning of dress codes has a lasting negative impact on both boys and girls, despite being intentional or not.

Whether or not an article of clothing is appropriate is completely subjective. An outfit may be viewed as modest to one teacher, but not to another. Parents will even approve of the child's outfit, but administration will disagree. The girl is punished for it regardless. She will be sent home for the day or forced to wait while a parent brings a change of clothes. She will bear the weight of embarrassment and shame all because the adults surrounding her cannot agree about an article of clothing. Meanwhile, a boy breaking dress code will almost always be overlooked.

The larger issue is how dress code violations are handled. A young girl can come to school feeling confident and on top of the world, but the opinion of one teacher can instantly bring her down. The self-confidence of a young girl is already so fragile without having someone that she looks up to shaming her to hide herself. She will be told that the outfit her mother bought for her makes her look like she is "going to the club."

In what world is it OK to tell a 12-year-old girl she looks as if she is going clubbing?

She will also be told that she must cover up that one extra exposed inch of knee so that boys are not distracting from their learning. Yes, because it makes perfect sense that showing once inch above your knee will cause a boy to be too distracted to learn. However, when they get to college and girls can wear whatever they want, boys are somehow able to pay attention to lecture. How does that make sense? You might as well point-blank say to a girl, "His education is more important than yours."

With all of this, there is an underlying impact that administrators do not even realize. Over time, it impacts the girls' self esteem so negatively that it can possibly lead to depression. It also shows them that their education is not as respected as that of a boy.

At the same time, it teaches boys that women are to be seen as objects. Pulling a girl out of class for a dress code violation shows them that if a girl is not covered up, then she is not to be respected as an equal since her exposed skin is distracting from their education. Teaching boys that their education is more important than a girls will contribute to sexism in the long run. If the administrators that these boys look up to don't respect these young girls, why should they?

My wish at the end of the day is for administrators to realize the larger impact that objectifying that one inch of knee makes. If the main reasoning for policing dress codes is to teach girls how to dress more professionally, then have a seminar about professional dress when they are in high school. Interrupting a girl's education over an inch of knee showing is not going to teach her how to dress professionally. It will crush her self-esteem and show that she is to be objectified instead of respected. It is up to school administrators to decide: is policing a simple dress code worth the long-lasting negative effects?

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To The Friends I Won't Talk To After High School

I sincerely hope, every great quality I saw in you, was imprinted on the world.


So, for the last four years I’ve seen you almost everyday. I’ve learned about your annoying little brother, your dogs and your crazy weekend stories. I’ve seen you rock the awful freshman year fashion, date, attend homecoming, study for AP tests, and get accepted into college.

Thank you for asking me about my day, filling me in on your boy drama and giving me the World History homework. Thank you for complimenting my outfits, laughing at me presenting in class and listening to me complain about my parents. Thank you for sending me your Quizlets and being excited for my accomplishments- every single one of them. I appreciate it all because I know that soon I won’t really see you again. And that makes me sad. I’ll no longer see your face every Monday morning, wave hello to you in the hallways or eat lunch with you ever again. We won't live in the same city and sooner or later you might even forget my name.

We didn’t hang out after school but none the less you impacted me in a huge way. You supported my passions, stood up for me and made me laugh. You gave me advice on life the way you saw it and you didn’t have to but you did. I think maybe in just the smallest way, you influenced me. You made me believe that there’s lots of good people in this world that are nice just because they can be. You were real with me and that's all I can really ask for. We were never in the same friend group or got together on the weekends but you were still a good friend to me. You saw me grow up before your eyes and watched me walk into class late with Starbucks every day. I think people like you don’t get enough credit because I might not talk to you after high school but you are still so important to me. So thanks.

With that said, I truly hope that our paths cross one day in the future. You can tell me about how your brothers doing or how you regret the college you picked. Or maybe one day I’ll see you in the grocery store with a ring on your finger and I’ll be so happy you finally got what you deserved so many guys ago.

And if we ever do cross paths, I sincerely hope you became everything you wanted to be. I hope you traveled to Italy, got your dream job and found the love of your life. I hope you have beautiful children and a fluffy dog named Charlie. I hope you found success in love before wealth and I hope you depended on yourself for happiness before anything else. I hope you visited your mom in college and I hope you hugged your little sister every chance you got. She’s in high school now and you always tell her how that was the time of your life. I sincerely hope, every great quality I saw in you, was imprinted on the world.

And hey, maybe I’ll see you at the reunion and maybe just maybe you’ll remember my face. If so, I’d like to catch up, coffee?



Cover Image Credit: High school Musical

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A Few Birthday Thoughts

Goodbye teenage years, hello twenties!


So, it is looking like I am about to leave my teenage years behind. I think that I want to reflect back on this time in my life and think about what I want to keep with me in my twenties and maybe some things I can let go. My teenage years have been full of love from my family and friends; hard work to make good grades in school and creating art. I developed several great friendships that I have held on to across the miles even though I went to college 14 hours away from our previous home. I am so thankful for the friendships I have made in college as well.

It seems like friends you make in your childhood and younger years can really stand the test of time. Maybe it is because when you became friends you were truly who you were. Everyone was genuine and didn't put up walls to protect themselves. You got to know someone on a deeper more personal level more quickly than if you had met later in life. I also think we laughed even more as children and that always creates good memories to look back on. So I think in my twenties I will try to hang on to the "childish" way of making friends. I will try to show my true self and will accept them for who they are, and we will laugh....a lot.

I think a good thing to let go of is always trying to make dead-end relationships work. When we were children on the playground and we tried to play a game together or jump rope and it just wasn't working, we would run off and find someone else. It was easy. It was just natural. Now sometimes I find myself trying to stay in a relationship by being overly nice, giving gifts, trying to find what pushes the persons "good" buttons. I might spend so much time trying to figure this person out that I leave out more solid relationships that are worth my time. So in my twenties, I will try to be more realistic about who to spend my time on. Some people are just never going to stand the test of time. I can continue to be cordial but won't let them rule my time and thought life.

As children, we loved our parents and siblings and would show love to them in a myriad of ways. Maybe it was hugs, pictures on the fridge, good night kisses, playing games, or just quality time spent together as a family. Starting my twenties, I am mature enough to realize the value of these people in my life. Thankfully, I have always known this. I was never the type that was embarrassed if someone saw me walking with my Mom or Dad or being dropped off in the Mom Van somewhere. I always knew these people loved me more than anyone else I was about to meet. But in my twenties, I plan to keep up with my family even when I am eight hours away from them. We are never too old to need the love of family.

As weird as it is to say goodbye to my teenage years, it's honestly helped me to soak in the precious moments of everyday life and treasure them even more. Every year when birthdays come around, it always serves as a reminder how quickly the days, months, and years fly by. I think that has been one difficult part of this birthday season. It's hard to say goodbye to the past, without a clear map of the future. But, I must remind myself that this is why growing up is a beautiful thing- as we live life and experience new things, we are better prepared for what the future may hold. Everything that I have experienced in my 20 years has served an important purpose- to make me into the person I am supposed to become. Yes, life is always changing and so am I... and change can be hard. Very hard. But one thing to remember is God is always constant. He will never change. No matter what number is on your birthday cake, He is always there...the same God yesterday, today and tomorrow. He is the Rock that we will always be able to cling to. Isn't that a wonderful thought? Even if we don't know what's in His plans for us in the coming year, it's important to make Him a part of our plans. Rather than worry about change, let's embrace it all- the good and the bad- and look to the Lord to see how He will guide and shape us.

Teenage years- the time has come. I must say goodbye to you now. But, you will never be forgotten. I will hold your memories in my heart forever. Twenties- I am excited for all that awaits me.

"Have I not commanded you? Be strong and courageous. Do not be afraid; do not be discouraged, for the LORD your God will be with you wherever you go." - Joshua 1:9

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