Fair dress code standards foster healthy learning environments
By SARAH CHUN
With the sweltering heat of California summer just around the corner, it is almost the season of tank tops and shorts—but not for students.
In a majority of schools around the world, students must adhere to a set of rules that dictate what they are allowed to wear in the classroom, otherwise known as a dress code. It enforces rules on tank tops, shorts and headwear in order to limit distractions and ensure safety.
Currently, the dress code decrees that shorts must not exceed fingertip length and that shirts should not expose an entire arm. Most students disobey these rules, and rightfully so.
Although, in theory, dress code is a good idea, rules enforcing restrictions on what students may or may not wear to school have gone overboard, even establishing a double standard.
Especially in warmer weather, school staff and administration patrol the campus, scrutinizing students’ clothing. “Your shorts go beyond fingertip length. Report to the office,” or “You’re showing too much shoulder. Do you have a jacket?” I’m sure we have all heard it before.
When was the last time a student failed a test because he was distracted by his classmate’s shoulders? What happens to girls who have long arms for their size; are they stuck wearing capris during hot weather? As a matter of fact, clothing stores hardly sell shorts that follow the restrictive nature of the current dress code.
For example, I once saw a girl and a boy walking to class side by side, both wearing tank tops of similar strap length. A teacher stopped the girl, asking her if she had a cover-up with her. It was during late May, with high-nineties weather, so of course she did not. As a result, the girl was sent up to the office to change her shirt into a musty old Physical Education t-shirt. However, the boy was allowed to proceed to class on time, still wearing his tank top.
Although the dress code applies to all students, it is more strict towards females. It seems that there is a double standard to what each gender can wear, and that males can be more relaxed about their outfits. This fosters sexist and unfair standards that carry on into the real world.
Either way, both the girl and the boy were exposing the same amount of shoulder. If anything, the boy had a fair amount of bicep and tricep muscle, as opposed to the girl’s average sized arms, so should it not be the other way around? What makes a female’s arms more distracting than the well-toned arms of the male standing beside her? The answer is this: an unsaid double standard.
What students wear should not be an issue in the first place, right? School’s purpose is to provide students a good education, not for it to be a fashion expo. There is no viable reason for female students to be wearing shirts with dramatically plunging necklines, or for males to be showing half of their boxer shorts. So true, what some students choose to wear to school is inappropriate for the classroom.
What our school and district board officials need to realize is that we need a reform in our dress code.
Obviously, we must place certain restrictions on one’s shorts and sleeve length, but the current rule in place goes overboard. Officials fear that male students will lust after females’ exposed arms and legs, so they take actin at the females’ convenience. Why should teenage girls have to put a ruler to their outfit to see if they can wear their favorite shorts to school because of what boys might think of them? Why should teenage girls have to let that cute tank top collect dust in their closet just so boys do not get “distracted” during class? Why not educate our boys to not sexualize and objectify girls?
We should, at the least, make a few changes to the dress code. We should let students wear tank tops to school, but only if they properly fit their body and cover up a majority of their upper body area. We should allow students to wear short shorts to school, as long as they are covering their entire rear ends.
All in all, school officials are absolutely justified in enforcing regulations on what students may wear to school. However, when there is a large double standard and subpar execution of this policy, they should consider reforms.