Dear Future President,
Dress codes have been a point of discussion for the past couple of years, and rightly so. In our society, women have fought for equality among the sexes for generations, and girls all over the U.S.A are still being shamed and told how to dress their own bodies. For example, high school administers of Staten Island gave nearly 200 female students detention, for wearing shorts in the sweltering heat of summer- The administrators claim, “This kind of revealing clothing is distracting.” Another example would be at high school in California held a mandatory assembly for girls only. They pulled them out of class to inform them they could no longer wear yoga pants or leggings. The school also claimed this clothing as “distracting” as mentioned by the Huffington Post. and A kindergarten student in Georgia was changed in school without her mother's knowledge, because her skirt was too short, the school also claimed this to be “distracting.” There are countless students coming forward with these stories across the USA and elsewhere.
But who exactly is this distracting? According to schools in the US, it's boys that attend the school, and perhaps even male faculty, which is uncomfortable itself. Not to mention the students who are coming forward with these stories often come with inappropriate comments from the administration. For example, a Stuyvesant high school official says, “You shouldn’t be showing off your curves, don't you want a husband someday.” A LakeSide High School official says, “Boys are bad, and that sort of shirt is going to cause them to misbehave.” Administers are punishing girls with detentions, public humiliation,exploitation, mandatory assemblies. What's the real distraction here? Laws that prohibit sex based discrimination in a hostility of school say these “accommodations” for boys can not legally come at an expense of girls education, regardless of rules set by administrators of schools.
So, what's the problem? The problem with this trend isn't because there are guidelines for dress. Guidelines are essential for everyday life suchs as parties, weddings, and schools. Guidelines themselves aren't the issue, the issue is when these guidelines are used to disproportionately target girls, sexualize students, or blame girls for distracting boys. This can lead to future complications for men and women, mental health issues, body shame, sexaul assault, harassment, and victom blaming,
It teaches young girls (many of whom are children) that their body’s are inherently sexual. That she is not entitled to human decency/respect if her skin is showing, which is objectifying. It tells girls that their body are more sexual than boys, that they are the object and men are the subject (the consumer). Girls grow to see their bodies through the eyes of uncontrollable male desire, instead of her own wants and her own needs. When girls look in the mirror they no longer see, “This is what I see.” Instead they see, “This is what others see me as. This is process called self-objectification and has been linked many times to depression, mental health issues, and eating disorders. As mentioned by Carla Birnberg, in Psychological Science RSS.
It also teaches young boys that girls bodies are inherently sexual, regardless of contexts. It teaches boys that it is acceptable to disrespect girls and misbehave, because they can can see her skin. So, instead of teaching boys that they are responsible for their own actions, it teaches that girls are responsible for them. (I.E boys will be boys= Normalizing bad behavior). Which, according the to the Women’s Center, is an extraordinarily dangerous lesson that we teach them. It’s part of how we set the stage for harassment, sexual assault, and victim blaming. Most concerns about the pressures on girls to show their skin in the first place. While many of the violations reviewed are barely reisky. It is still true that women are bombarded with hyper sexaulized images of women, and we do feel those pressures, but that problem is not shown by reinforcing our status as sex objects in the dress code. hypersexulaion can be combated by empowering girl to feel comfortable in their own skin, by addressing the pressures we feel and making places to talk about them.
If you were to change the way schools dictate dresscode, by reinforcing our status in the dress code we could avoid future complications for men and women, stop self-objectification, and allow women to feel accepted wearing whatever allows them to feel comfortable. This can be accomplished by encouraging girls to wear whatever they feel happy and comfortable in. To dress for themselves and nobody else.