Outdated Sexism: Why Today’s Dress Code Needs to Change
Lesly Rodriguez, Staff Reporter
Shame, embarrassment, frustration. You were just walking through the halls of your school, a place you should feel safe, when you were stopped by a teacher, they look you up and down, eyebrows raised, hand on hip, a slight squint of their eyes. A look that you’ll remember for days.
“Your shorts are way too short.”
“I can see your shoulders.”
“You need to cover up.”
“I can see midriff.”
“That’s not appropriate.”
With the teacher glaring at you all the way into the office, you sit down and wait for yet another adult to assess your clothing and hand you something more “modest” to put on.
As you walk out of the office wearing an uncomfortable new outfit, confusion runs through your mind at the injustice of what just happened. Why wasn’t the guy walking in front of you with sagging pants and foul language on his hoodie dress coded?
Student’s right to free expression at school has been a fight for a very long time. So why has nothing changed? Why are the rules still so harsh, and why are females still targeted?
If I want to wear athletic shorts that are comfortable and not going down to my knees, I should be able to. If I want to wear a dress because I want to feel nice that day, I should be able to. If it’s hot outside, like it always is, because it’s Texas, I should be able to wear a tanktop or a crop top. If I want to dye my hair every color of the rainbow, or pierce my face, I should be able to, because the reality of it is, no one else cares.
The Student-Parent Handbook has a section dedicated to The Dress Code (pg, 105-107). The rules state that tank tops, crop tops, low cut shirts, oversized armholes, bottoms of all kinds below fingertip length, extremely ripped jeans, non modest dresses, and skin tight clothing is prohibited. And while anyone can understand the need for some rules, to prevent students from showing up to school essentially naked, the reality is that most dress coding situations that actually happen are an over exaggeration of that need. Most girls who get dress coded are just wearing comfortable, trendy clothes that look totally normal.
When walking into a mall or a shopping center or any store at all, you’ll notice that the women’s section is filled with crop tops, tank tops, tank top-crop tops, low cut tank top-crop tops, low cut crop tops, short shorts, “non modest” dresses, ripped jeans, baggy jeans, and in the case that a t-shirt is found, it has inappropriate writing or it’s oversized. Even our sweaters, hoodies and crewnecks are cropped. We cannot control what today’s fashion has come to be. We cannot call the fashion industry and tell them to make clothes that will fit our school’s ridiculously sexist protocols.
Apart from that, we see a clear bias and double standard. Football players crop their work-out shirts and wear them in the athletic building and out on the football field. The male’s cross country runners run around the track shirtless. Yes, they are exercising. Yes, it’s hot, but it’s Texas, it’s always hot. For the same reason male cross country runners get to be shirtless while outside, girls should be allowed to wear tank tops, crop tops, shorts, dresses. Girls should be allowed to be comfortable. Girls should be allowed to be fashionable. Girls should be allowed the same freedom as their male classmates. Girls should be able to get dressed in the morning without worrying.
The dress code makes even less sense when you look at volleyball players and cheerleaders who run around in spandex shorts and micro mini skirts that they are REQUIRED to wear by the school, but as soon as they change in to their regular clothes, which cover up more than their uniform, they are subject to dress code violations.
If the reasoning behind the restrictions on girls’ clothes is that boys will be “distracted” by too much skin, the problem is not with the clothes or the girls who wear them, it’s that boys are not taught respect and self control. Guys have skin too, but no one ever tells them to cover up so that girls won’t be distracted. Nobody seems to worry about lesbian or bisexual girls being distracted. Apparently it’s only straight guys who need to be coddled by having everyone else’s personal freedoms restricted.
While it has been openly expressed by many teachers that they disagree with the dress code, they will still continue to dress code students as long as it remains a part of their job. Teachers should be more focused on teaching their students, rather than the clothes that they are wearing. It shouldn’t matter what they wear as long as they are present in class, ready to learn, and doing their work.
Making the dress code more flexible would benefit not only students, but teachers as well. So much time and so many resources are wasted by enforcing these ridiculous rules. Girls are capable of deciding for themselves what clothes are best for them.