Dressing for male comfort

Aubree Owens, Editor-In-Chief

Dress codes are implemented in elementary, junior high, high school, and colleges all over the country. While dress codes are rules that every student needs to abide by, the rules are swayed to mostly impact the girls. Rules such as tank tops needing to be three fingers in width on the straps, shorts needing to be down to one’s fingertips, no form of crop tops, if wearing leggings, the t-shirt must cover the behind. By teaching boys in school that girls must dress as what is seen as ‘appropriate’ so that they do not become tempted neglects teaching boys any form of control over their own actions, thoughts, and temptations making it the girls problem starting as early as elementary school. 

According to the Fox News article, “What should students wear? Who decides? Dress codes can be a real minefield for schools” (April 16, 2014), “The discussions at school meetings have sometimes bordered on silly. But few disagree that there are serious issues at hand here — among them, whether girls are being shamed and unnecessarily embarrassed at a time when they’re already starting to feel more aware of their changing bodies... ‘The notion that girls’ clothing affects the way boys learn is not, and never will be, our message,’ the statement said. However, parents who’ve attended school meetings, and students who dislike the policy, seem most troubled by an inconsistency in enforcement.” 

While it may be true that the school boards intention is not to offend or shame teenage girls, that it exactly what they are doing. Girls with certain body types get dress coded more than others and are forced to go home or find clothing to change into. While the school staff does not want the boys to be distracted by the girls’ clothing, they are taking away time from girls learning and causing more of a distraction by making them leave to find a change of clothes. If there is going to be a dress code, it needs to be enforced fairly and equally amongst all students, not just girls and or girls with certain body types. 

According to the Yahoo Life article, “Why school dress codes should babolished” (August 24, 2020) by Sabrina Rojas Weiss, Dr. Christopher Emdin, associate professor of Science Education at Teachers College, Columbia University said, ‘When young folks are free to be who they are in the classroom, they learn better… They’re not consumed by whether or not they’re acceptable. They are not worrying about how they are going to be perceived or interpreted. They’re not worried about: am I breaking a rule or am I not? Am I going to anger somebody? And the reality is, when a young person is consumed by how adults are viewing them, based on how the hair grows out of their head, for example, they don’t have the mental space to also learn.’ 

If teachers and staff are truly focused on making sure that students are getting their proper education, they should be less focused on catching girls breaking the dress code and more focused on teaching and letting children express themselves. Not only would the change in focus allow students to get the education they deserve, but it also prevents them from being worried about how other perceive them, which is not something a child and or teenager should feel the need to focus on.  

Emdin also explains, “In districts in Oregon, Seattle, and California, schools have been experimenting with abolishing most rules about dressing. They follow a model developed by the Oregon National Organization for Women in 2016. The model places a higher value on student self-expression and comfort than on “unnecessary discipline or body shaming,” and it frees educators to focus on teaching instead of enforcing rules. For the sake of everyone’s health and safety, they have to have certain body parts covered. The also can’t wear anything that has hate speech, profanity, pornography, or promotion of drugs or violence.” 

If other states and districts have noticed the issue and were able to make a change that helped the students and staff, the change should be made nationwide. There is a plausible solution. Now it is a matter of if districts are willing to make a change. This change would teach boys self-control, allow students to express themselves and allow girls to not feel the need to worry about what others are thinking about them.  

As children spend the majority of their adolescence in school, it is only fair that at all times the staff is finding ways to make it a healthy environment. Teenage girls should not have to dress a certain way in order to make sure they are not tempting their male peers.