School Dress Code: Damage Or Good

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2 pages /

999 words

Downloads: 62

2 pages /

999 words

Downloads: 62

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Schools could be worrying about budgets, fire drills, danger in the classroom and/or safety of the students. Instead, they fret about a bare shoulder or an open knee. These girls are told to change for the comfort of the boys. “It distracts the boys” is not a good reason. “It distracts the male teachers” is way worse. This is not the 1920’s. Women can vote, women can work, but we cannot decide what to wear to school on their own? Strict school dress codes do more damage than good.

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Not only is it a right to choose what one wears, but being forced to change is just demeaning. Especially when girls feel there was nothing wrong with ones choice of clothing. Being forced to change is often embarrassing, and lowers their self-esteem. Then, it’s okay to count a girl absent, when she is sent home? It doesn’t make sense. Strict dress codes interfere with the learning of female students, not the males. For the parents, it can be costly. Teens tend to be very picky when it comes to clothes. Buying teenagers clothes they cannot wear to school because the straps are not wide enough, or shorts that are not long enough is a waste of money. Teenagers might simply be trying to look good and be fashionable, but an adult may perceive her outfit as sending a sexual message. While this may affect some boys, this is an issue mostly targeted at girls. As for male and female dress codes, the general understanding is there are fewer options for males, therefore fewer opportunities to wear something inappropriate, but boys wear shorts above their knees all the time. Girls cannot do that. What makes a man’s thigh is different than a women’s? It’s simply sexist.

If he cannot control himself around a shoulder, why is the girl sent home to change and not the boy who obviously has more of an issue? Women have always been seen as objects for pleasure to men and it’s time to end this. By treating tank tops like a crime, it sends the message to these girls' male peers that if a girl is wearing such 'revealing' clothing, she's asking to be sexualized and it is okay to do so. Girls often get bullied because they get dress coded. Her confidence and pride she takes in her appearance is stripped from her when she is told that she is dressing inappropriately. Requiring a school uniform eliminates the pressure to wear name brand clothing, but a dress code simply does not. Dress codes limit clothing options, school uniforms define clothing options. Overall, there is no evidence that supports a reduction in violence due to school uniforms. Bullies are smart. They will just find some other way to show status. Who went on the best trip this summer? Who drives the best car? If kids want to pick on someone about how rich or how poor they are, clothes are one obvious path to take but there are a lot more options.

Big companies use young girls to promote their clothing. Victoria Secret is a good example of this. Victoria's Secret's marketing technique was known for the Photo shopped ads of Angels to the outrageously produced fashion show, where now it relies on its logo front and center of all of its clothing. There are girls as young as 6th grade sporting this brand, intended for college students. The company uses sayings like “Wild Things” or “Kiss Me” on the rear of their sweatpants, shorts, and underwear. Girls wearing Victoria Secret clothing to school just promotes their company even more. A dress code that regulates this way of marketing would help schools.

Clothing is one of the many ways of expressing themselves for students. Still, schools across the globe often debate with whether to enforce strict dress code policies that may restrict with a students’ right to self-expression. Some dress codes are so ridiculous they ban the colors red and blue because of their gang affiliation. A Utah high school even changed school pictures, adding in higher sleeves and necklines to the photos of female students. Many school dress codes also deal with hair. A Colorado girl who shaved her head in support of a friend with cancer, violated her school's dress code and was suspended from school for a whole day. At a school in Florida, students are forced to change into an outfit of a bright shirt and sweatpants that read 'dress code violation'. More than 50% of schools nationwide require a strict dress code or school issued uniform. Dress codes are bad because the dress codes unfairly target girls. Dress codes send a message to girls that if they are harassed by the boys, it is their own fault. It gives girls the impression that one should be guilty for how the boys control themselves and act around us.

Dress codes, when applied only to women, go beyond regulating behavior and maintaining innocence. When a dress code restricts a women’s freedom, it’s used to shame women for loving their bodies. Dress codes that prohibit tank tops tell women that their shoulders need to be covered because they can be seen sexually. Dress codes that ban crop tops tell young women that their stomachs are something to be ashamed of and hide. There is an issue with oversexualizing women, then telling them to hide their bodies.

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No, one should not have an issue with Target requiring their employees to wear red and khaki. No, one should not have an issue with a third grade teacher asking that her students wear closed-toed shoes to school for safety on the playground. What one should have an issue with is when young women are punished for wearing what is trendy and/or what makes them feel good about themselves. What one should not be okay with is when girls are told to hide their bodies “for the boys”. Strict school dress codes do more damage than good.

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Prof. Linda Burke

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School Dress Code: Damage Or Good. (2020, October 10). GradesFixer. Retrieved October 1, 2023, from
“School Dress Code: Damage Or Good.” GradesFixer, 10 Oct. 2020,
School Dress Code: Damage Or Good. [online]. Available at: <> [Accessed 1 Oct. 2023].
School Dress Code: Damage Or Good [Internet]. GradesFixer. 2020 Oct 10 [cited 2023 Oct 1]. Available from:
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