Taboo Topics: Sexist Dress Code

A Gender-Biased Dress Regulation

Rin Akers, Reporter/Journalist

Oh my gosh! A little bit of thigh! So scandalous! So distracting! So… normal.

A woman is not defined by the amount of skin she does or does not show. We shouldn’t be teaching young women how to dress. Instead, we should be teaching self-control and respect in our boys. Sure, you might deem me a feminist as an insult but have you ever been sent home over a quarter-sized hole in your jeans? Or have you ever had your expensive clothing duct taped and torn to the point you couldn’t wear them ever again? If, like me, you’re a young woman in a public school setting you probably said yes, or probably have a similar experience.

Being in a dress-coded environment has made me nervous to show my body. I should be comfortable with myself and how much skin I prefer showing. If it’s more or less than another woman, that shouldn’t be your business.


Sending a woman home over her clothing is instilling toxic priorities in our youth. What this says is: “Your presentation and ‘decency’ is far more important than your education and attendance”; or, “Hiding your body so boys have a distraction-free learning environment is more important than your learning”. Your education isn’t valued over a coin-sized hole in your jeans. Or a bra strap (a “necessary” garment in the eyes of society) barely noticeable on the hot last few and first few months of school, when you have to wear skinny straps or sweat through longer ones. Your education isn’t valued more over the “distraction” it causes male peers (and to no fault of your own!).

There’s also the issue on inconsistency in the dress code. I’ve seen more overweight and non-white girls be dress coded than the typical archetype skinny, white blondie of high school. Even among the women, some of us are at an unfair and unwarranted disadvantage/advantage than others. Some taller girls can find it difficult to find shorts the proper length and also still like the way they look. A personal tall friend of mine used to talk about how she couldn’t find shorts that were the right length for her longer legs and arms. Clothes are also very expressive.

Adolescence tend to express themselves through the clothes they wear, the piercings/tattoos they get and so many other physical attributes. Restricting them so harshly on clothing is repressing their ability to express themselves. Which is so very crucial for their age. Without the development of identity and sense of self, psychologists say, they will become lost in life and will less likely succeed and reach happiness/acceptance.

Of course, some regulations is understandable. Buttocks (yes I said it, get over it) or breasts (get over it) hanging out may be overstepping it a little bit. Even providing her with clothing to cover herself takes time away from her studies and teaches her to be embarrassed of her own body. Schools have made some progress in their dress code policies such as allowing holes above the knee (barely), and skinny straps as long as you show no bra straps (which is virtually impossible unless you let the girls free or go out of your way to purchase an uncomfortable strapless one). Another thing is that society thinks it’s “gross” or “inappropriate” for women to go braless but then shame us for showing the strap of one.

No one has a right to tell a woman that because she is wearing a certain type of clothing, she is a distraction to those around her. We aren’t in the 19th century anymore. You should teach people, as I said, to keep their eyes from prying rather than making women hide their bodies. Sexualizing 14-19 year-old girls is more of a problem than her wearing clothing she is comfortable and can express herself in. When you send her home or tell her she has to leave normal classes, you’re saying just because of the clothing she’s wearing she isn’t as entitled to a normal education. Women are not responsible for the wandering eyes of their peers. And we shouldn’t be made to feel as though we are.

And has anyone ever really heard a guy say any of this…