The Dress Code Debacle

After what seems like the shortest summer ever, you head out for annual back to school shopping, excited to get all of your new supplies and clothes. When that first 94 degree day of school rolls around, you put on your new outfit, ready to take on the year. That is, until you get to school and are told that you need to change because you can’t manage to fit three fingers on your shirt straps and that your shorts are a centimeter shorter than your fingertips. You might say “that would never happen to me,” but with stricter dress code enforcement in place this year, it could.

With the 2016-17 school year, many strong feelings have come to the surface about how the dress code is seen as biased against females.

“While dress code regulations are important and we should present ourselves in a professional manner, it saddens me that there is such a strong emphasis on the female side of the dress code,” English teacher Mollie Muse said.

This emphasis on female dress was seen in a PowerPoint shown the first week of school titled, “How to Look Fly at Reynolds High.” In the presentation there were 17 slides about generally female only issues, such as clothing lengths and strap width. On the one slide directed towards males, sagging pants were addressed with the reasoning against them being, “FYI for guys: most girls are just not into this look.”

“I do feel that it’s unfair that girls are expected to cover up innocent parts of their bodies like their shoulders and their legs to compensate for our male’s inability to stay focused,” senior Becca Gwyn said.

It seems like most females around school share similar opinions towards the way the dress code is set up and was presented.

“I think it was ridiculous because I didn’t enjoy being stigmatized on the second day of school,” junior Mary Adams Weston said. “I think it is biased towards females because it is often said that the dress code is put into action because the ways females dress may distract the male students. I think it is ridiculous  that male students cannot pay attention in class if they see a girl’s bare shoulder.”

However, along with females who are offended, there is a smaller but present population of males who are willing recognize the issue.

“Girls are definitely affected more,” sophomore Wills Woodruff said. “I think it’s an issue because the schools are worrying about something that doesn’t really affect people in school. What you wear doesn’t make a difference in what you learn.”

Assistant Principal Karen Archie assured that the dress code is not intended to be sexist, especially towards females.

“The compliance for the dress code is not necessarily for girls or guys it is for the institution of school, making sure that we all have a similar approach to looking professional,” Archie said.

We live in a society today that is shifting to not necessarily feminist views, but the thought that the two genders should be treated equally. Whether that be with pay, rights or, in this case, dress. That being said, why are we still using dress codes that are blatantly harder on females?

A simple solution would be when referring to dress to take out gender specific words.

“We may need to revisit making things not so gender specific because that it not the intent,” Archie said.

There is no excuse for females to feel inferior because of something as slight as exposed shoulders being considered immodest. This mindset should not be instilled at a school where part of what we are taught is to respect people regardless of gender, size, color or anything else. We should express it and do so equally and respectfully.