Last Updated 21 Dec 2022

An Opinion on the Issues Surrounding Dress Codes in American Schools

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Dress codes aren’t a new thing, Fashion has always been radical, and there have always been people who stand opposed. I was doing research into the history of various dress codes, and it was considered, radical, immoral, and completely outrageous when girls wanted to wear pants to school. The dress code said skirts only, so girls wore skirts, simply because that‘s the way things were always done. When pants began to take off in North America earlier on in the twentieth century, many religious leaders said they would lead to woman becoming promiscuous and to question male authorityt Pants would lead to girls being wild, instead of quiet and modest, and no one would want to marry them. It would lead to the complete collapse of society as they knew it.

There weren‘t actually laws in the US preventing schools from forcing girls to wear skirts until 1972. Today, that logic sounds completely ludicrous, but how far have things really come? There are still some schools today with uniforms in place where girls have to wear skirts as part of the uniform, and are being challenged by parents and students as the rule being outdated and sexist How different is that really from more typical dress codes found in most schools today? The leading reason girls wanted to wear pants to school isn’t some great campaign for human rights, it‘s because they were cold. That‘s it. To anyone who’s never worn a skirt, 1 inform you of this fact now, they are cold in winter. Pants are a million times warmer, and girls wanted to wear them out of sheer practicality.

The same thing is happening now. Schools all over have forbidden shorts that they deem ”inappropriately short’fl Not only is that impossible to quantify, and the reasons for the rule disgusting, it’s impractical. Girls campaigned for the right to wear pants because they were cold, and they campaign for the right to wear shorts and tank tops because they‘re hot. It’s not about “distracting boys”, or even making a fashion statement most times, it’s simply about the fact that it’s twenty-five degrees outside and they don’t feel like baking for the sake of forced modesty. It’s a practical reason, and in a few decades I don’t doubt it shall seem as ludicrous that it was denied as the pants issue does now. So, strike one against dress codes is that they can be impractical. No one should have to wear capris’ for the sake of modesty when the paint’s peeling off the gym door from heat. The second problem is, clothing manufacturer’s now this.

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They know no girl wants excess material in the summer months, and they make their products accordingly, It is nearly impossible to buy shorts that fall above the knee with an acceptable, school appropriate inseam measurement. That is not the fashion, and that is not what people are buying, so that’s not what stores are selling, Meaning even if someone wants to follow the dress code with all her heart, finding the material to do so is nearly impossible, So you‘re left with the choice of buying capris’ that fall mid»calf and roastng in their seats, or of wearing the high-waist shorts that fill the shelves these days and ducking into a restroom to hide whenever a staff member walks buy. Neither are good options Furthermore, what‘s considered inappropriate is an unquantifiable thing.

Inappropriate dress on one student may be inappropriate on another student, and that’s not fair, No one ever breaks out the measuring tape, but a three inch inseam looks very different on a girls who’s 5‘3 than a girl who’s 5’9. What’s considered appropriate to staff and officials can change based on height, weight, and body type, and that isn’t fair, to the girls or to the staff who have to defend their decisions. The biggest problem with dress codes is that they are sexist. In my twelve years of public school, I have never seen any boy called on a dress code violation, though you‘ll see many in tank tops during the warmer months, the same tank tops that a girl would be required to cover up, Many argue that different dress codes should be required for different genders, as though somehow boy’s shoulders are less distracting to a girl than girls shoulders are to a boy.

The biggest reason for dress codes, and all the stories I’ve read about girls fighting dress code, all stem from one word: distracting. Dress codes are wielded as a sword to create a “distracting free learning environment”, and that’s not always a bad thing. But when you pull a girl out of class, detracting from her learning experience, to change her outfit in order to create a “distraction free” learning environment for her male classmates, you are telling that girl, and every other girl in that room, that their males classmates are more entitled to an education than they are, Girls are taught to wear higher necklines so boys can’t see down their shirt, instead of boys being taught not to stare at a girl‘s cleavagei This kind of environment promotes rape culture and misogyny, which is poison to schools and society.

It teaches boys that they can do whatever they want, and it‘s her fault for being a tease, or a distraction That you’re allowed to harass her because she’s wearing a crop top, or a mini skirt, It teaches students that girls are responsible for how boys react to their presence and appearance, and that’s not okay Instead of harsh dress code measures, and staff on the prowl with a ruler and a gym shirt, schools should have very basic guidelines for what’s appropriate, and stick to them regardless of gender, height, weight, body shape, or any other factor. Strict dress codes only hurt people in the long run, both the girls that feel oppressed and the boys that are being told that they are unaccountable for what they do. Instead, basic education on harassment, consent, and general decency towards the opposite gender should be mandatory in schools.

It’s unfair and wrong to ask girls to police themselves to protect boys, and it‘s insulting to boys that dress codes paint them as uncontrollable morons who just have to be humored, Dress codes are an issue, but the bigger problem is the attitudes they create. There have always been and will always be radical ideas, and young people who want to make changes to the world they live in. But that doesn‘t mean they’re wrong. The idea of women wearing pants was radical, and for a time women in government was spectacularly insane. But that doesn‘t make them had ideas, or unnecessary changes. Sometimes, what seems radical and outlandish at the time is exactly what the world needs to move forwards Writing Variables Central Idea: Dress codes are an outdated social norm that perpetuates the oppression of women and misogynist attitudes in society Form: Opinion piece, Purpose: To educate people about the harmful effects of strict school dress codes.

Public Audience: School administrators, staff, or policy makers, It could also be presented to anyone campaigning for feminist rights or against dress codes, Context: In a magazine or newspaper concerned with woman‘s rights and feminist issues, such as Herizons, Room, or Shameless. The central idea of my opinion piece is that dress codes are an outdated social norm that hurts everyone; boys, girls, and society as a whole They further misogynistic attitudes and promote rape culture, and the purpose of my piece is to explain why, and what measures should be taken to rectify this issue I chose to do an opinion piece because I have knowledge and strong opinions in this area, and I feel the best way to convince people that the current policies are harmful is a sincere statement from personal experience.

The public audience to this piece is school administrators and staff, as well as people concerned with feminist issues and woman’s rights. Many people sincerely don’t see this as a problem, or make snide comments about “first world problems”, not realizing that this is a real issue that can shape our culture and society School administrators often don’t consider the long term affects dress codes are having on developing humans. The attitudes learned in schools last a child a life time, so it’s important that the policies be reviewed to make sure they’re teaching children correct behavior, which dress codes are not As such, I’d like to see this piece in a magazine orjournal concerned with woman’s rights, and in more mainstream newspapers and magazines where it can be seen by educational professionals The attitudes dress codes create are a societal issue, and people need to be made aware of that.

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