Let’s be honest, dress codes suck. The whole idea of dress codes defeats a student’s self-expression, creativity and free will.
Let me be clear about a few things.
Number one, when I say students should be allowed to wear what they want, I don’t mean clothes that are inappropriate for the school’s environment like bikinis, swimsuits and whatnot.
Number two, there should be a certain limit to “wear what they want.” Students should be able to express themselves through their taste and fashion sense without harming the school’s environment.
Too much skin
Most of the time, when someone from the school staff sees a girl in ripped jeans and cropped top, they feel the need to pull her aside and tell her that what she’s wearing is “too revealing” or “too distracting.” But when boys unbutton their polo shirts, nobody says anything. Nothing like, “You look messy, button your shirt up.” If anything is said at all, that’s the furthest it can go.
One time, my best friend wore a striped overall dress with a jean jacket to school and one of her teachers scolded her for wearing something that showed off too much of her body and skin. A few days after, a slimmer girl wore the same outfit and nobody said a word.
“Dress coding” can also be a form of body shaming, which can deeply affect a person’s mental health.
When it comes to calling someone too fat, too skinny, too curvy, etc., there are so many ways to go about it. When teachers “dress code” a girl for wearing something that enhances her curves, they say her outfit is “distracting the boys,” but when a skinnier girl wears the exact same thing, nobody bats an eye. The teachers may not even realize that they’re body-shaming.
Because of this, the girl’s mental health can get affected immensely—because she isn’t as skinny as others or because she has an hourglass figure.
It’s also common for curvier women to be victims of catcalling, which can fuel their anxiety. I’ll say, dress codes can also be used to victim-blame.
‘The boys will get distracted’
Whenever a girl gets dress-coded, the excuse is always something like, “The boys will get distracted!” But, come on, ripped jeans and off-shoulder tops? Who’s going to stare at someone’s knees and shoulders and get “distracted”?
Girls are made to believe that they have to change their way of expressing themselves because of how the boys feel.
It’s messed up to tell a girl to cover up because “the boys in the class will get distracted.” It’s kind of like saying, “it’s your fault for activating their hormones.”
Why should the girls have to change the way they dress for the boys’ benefit? Shouldn’t we also teach the boys to have human decency and to keep it in their pants? If you’re going to tell a girl to cover up, you should also teach the guy to show women some respect.
Now, this doesn’t necessarily mean that boys aren’t subject to feeling undermined due to dress-coding, because they are.Internalized misogyny
According to @impact on Instagram, there was a male student in Texas who wore nail polish to school and got suspended for three days because of it. This goes hand-in-hand with people’s internalized misogyny and homophobia.
A lot of schools are against boys dyeing their hair and painting their nails, because it’s “only for girls” or “inappropriate for our environment,” which I honestly never understood.
Because of various excuses for dress code, boys are also painted as hormonal monsters who aren’t able to control themselves. Although that happens sometimes, it isn’t the case always.
Dress codes can impact all students of all identities. Body-shaming, victim-blaming, misogyny and homophobia can all stem from dress codes, even as people tend to look past it.
Girls are made to be perceived as seductresses who wear certain outfits to impress guys. Why can’t we normalize girls wearing outfits for their own benefit? Not all boys are hormonal, disgusting creatures; for those who are, they should be taught to respect women.
Dress codes can affect students’ emotional health at such a young age, and because of that, they can grow up in a world of self-doubt and constant self-hatred.
Let students wear whatever they want to school. It’ll be beneficial for everyone at the end of the day. —CONTRIBUTED