The Medieval Times

The student news site of Cabell Midland High School

The student news site of Cabell Midland High School

The Medieval Times

The student news site of Cabell Midland High School

The Medieval Times

School Dress Codes


In recent years, school dress codes have garnered significant attention and debate. While proponents argue that dress codes promote a safe and respectful learning environment, critics argue that they perpetuate body shaming and sexism. The arguments surrounding school dress codes, drawing on the information from the National Eating Disorders Association’s blog post titled “Dress Codes are Body-Shaming and Sexist” and the examples provided by the Helpful Professor website. 


The National Eating Disorders Association (NEDA) emphasizes the damaging impact of school dress codes on body image. According to NEDA, dress codes often prioritize and enforce a specific body type, promoting unrealistic standards of beauty. There have been many female students of thicker or curvier body types who have reported, wearing the same clothing as one of their slimmer friends, and being reprimanded for the clothing but their friend is not. These standards alienate and stigmatize students who do not conform to society’s “ideal” body shape or size. As a result, dress codes contribute to body dissatisfaction, low self-esteem, and potentially even the development of eating disorders. 

Moreover, NEDA suggests that dress codes contribute to the objectification of students’ bodies. By policing what students wear, dress codes imply that a student’s worth and identity are determined by their appearance. This objectification reduces students to mere objects of sexual desire, perpetuating harmful attitudes towards individuals, particularly females, in educational settings. 

 Cadence Adkins (11th grade), reported that during her freshman year, she was walking in the hallway with two of her friends when a teacher pulled her aside for a crop top she was wearing that showed a sliver of her stomach. The teacher berated her, calling her derogatory terms of which no teacher should ever repeat to any student. Cadence was left feeling insecure and upset when before she was feeling optimistic. 

Cabell Midland does have a dress code policy against showing your midriff, but under no circumstances should any adult make a teenager feel uncomfortable in their own skin. There are much better ways to enforce dress code without making the students feel uncomfortable and vulnerable. 

Mrs. Grimms’ (Forensics Science teacher at Cabell Midland), beliefs on the dress code is that it hasn’t been enforced much this school year. She believes that it is getting out of hand, and too many students are taking advantage of the teachers and administrators who are attempting to be more laid back. There are females who are wearing short shorts, small belly shirts, or shirts that show a lot of cleavage. While that shouldn’t be considered distracting for other students, it can make many feel uncomfortable. 

Cabell Midland High School, from the book, does have a seemingly fair dress code. Some of the rules include no headbands, hats, bandanas, beanies, sweat bands. The school has a right to allow what they choose to but taking away these things can prevent students from feeling more comfortable, confident, and prevent the ability to express themselves. That is one of the only dress code rules that is truly, always enforced anymore. Administrators and teachers are trying their best to allow students to dress how they feel fully comfortable and confident. 



Critics also argue that school dress codes disproportionately target and enforce gender stereotypes. The Helpful Professor website provides various examples of gender-biased dress codes, such as banning tank tops for girls while allowing boys to wear sleeveless shirts. Our school may say that they are equal with the dress code whilst boys are able to hike up their shorts until there is none left to hike up, but girls get in trouble if their shorts aren’t below fingertip length. Some teachers aren’t as strict with the dress code but there are many who are. Such discrepancies reinforce the idea that girls’ bodies are inherently sexual and need to be controlled, while boys’ bodies are more acceptable and less provocative. 

These gender-specific dress codes reinforce societal gender roles, limiting self-expression and perpetuating harmful stereotypes. By restricting choices based on gender, dress codes contribute to the reinforcement of rigid gender norms and hinder efforts towards gender equality. 


Proponents of school dress codes argue that they promote a professional environment, prepare students for the real world, and reduce distractions in the classroom. They believe that enforcing a certain standard of appearance helps students focus on their studies and projects a positive image of the school to the community. 

However, it is important to note that dress codes can be implemented without resorting to body-shaming and sexism. The Helpful Professor website provides alternative examples of dress codes that prioritize safety while allowing students to express themselves. For instance, dress codes can focus on guidelines such as ensuring outfits cover specific body parts and are free from offensive or provocative imagery, rather than imposing arbitrary gender-specific rules. 


While concerns about maintaining a respectful learning environment and minimizing distractions are valid, school dress codes must be critically examined to ensure they do not perpetuate harmful body-shaming and sexism. By understanding the arguments presented by critics and considering alternative dress code examples, schools can proactively address the issue of dress codes in a manner that fosters inclusiveness, respects students’ individuality, and promotes a positive body image for all. It is crucial that educational institutions strive to create an environment where all students feel valued, accepted, and empowered, rather than judged based on their appearance or gender. 

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