Updated: Sep 24, 2019
From the second we started going to school, we knew there was an expectation of what was appropriate for us to wear on campus, whether it was a uniform or follow a dress code. We may even have clothing restrictions that are given by our families, or ourselves for that matter. As a girl who grew up on more of the feminine side, I’ve always felt my best when I was wearing some kind of dress or skirt. However, to this day, people still feel the need to comment on my choice of style, both peers and adults. Some have been positive and others negative, but I continue to dress the way I do because it’s what I like, and my parents don’t have any problems with it. I imagine that many other people have a similar understanding with their family.
However, while our parents have some authority in what we wear, should the school ? And if so, how much control is appropriate for them to have over what we wear? Here at Eagle Rock, despite having a dress code in place, we hardly ever see it enforced. While there are some rules that definitely need to be restricted, a lot of them seem rather random and possibly even run afoul of our rights to express ourselves freely. There are some reasonable exceptions to this, but, in my opinion, only very few rules adequately cover these exceptions. Moreover, most dress code regulations are directed towards females, and this is most likely because the school wants to avoid girls dressing in a provocative way.
At Eagle Rock, some may say we’re “lucky,” and such restrictions aren’t necessarily wrong. Plus, other than a few sticklers on campus, most faculty and staff will not even point out a girl showing off a little skin. But again, is it even their right to approve of this or not? Our unspoken lenience can’t even fully be appreciated because what should be a liberty is being viewed as more of a luxury. And that’s the problem. We shouldn’t feel lucky being able to wear what we want on our bodies. So no matter how fortunate we are in comparison to others, there’s still the possibility of running into the one rare staff member who will care, and it does matter.
If you’ve never experienced this, then you’d never know just how embarrassing it is, uncommon or not. Imagine being under 18 years old and told your new skirt is too provocative. It’s not pleasant. Or the day before Halloween when the costume dress code is being announced, and they make references about “revealing” clothing jokingly being addressed to the boys, but you know it’s really towards you and every other girl at school -- that also doesn’t feel good. These things can go make young women see themselves as doing something wrong when it’s simply untrue. And all it takes is one person to make an uncomfortable comment.
Of course, there are reasonable dress code rules that should not be ignored at school. I don’t think the idea of a dress code should be completely abolished. There are things that should be regulated, like with anything in life. For example, no matter what gender you are, you shouldn’t come to school completely nude. That isn’t even legal in public. Section III of the dress code, the unisex section, is, in my mind, the fairest of them all. It’s the only one that doesn’t directly call out any one group. The first section of the code prohibits any article of clothing displaying anything drug related. Although this isn’t necessarily offensive or harmful, it is still illegal for minors to partake in using drugs for recreational purposes. Therefore, unless you’re 21, you shouldn’t really be promoting it.
The next one rules out “obscene symbols or language, gang symbols or affiliation, cult membership or symbols/scenes of violence.” Not only does any kind of affiliation disrupt the safety of others, it may also potentially jeopardize yours. Because of this, I’d say it’s right to not allow this for security reasons. The last justifiable regulation is that “clothing may not contain language or symbols that defame other groups or ethnicities.” We are a very diverse school, and any indication of racism on campus should not be allowed. School is supposed to be a safe and accepting place, and it should feel that way for anyone, regardless of one’s racial or ethinic background. For that reason, the school is in the right to not allow it, as they are with any other rules that are meant to protect us.
There is a fine line between criticizing the person’s clothing and condemning the person. Just because our society tends to be old-fashioned in their ways, doesn’t mean our school needs to be. I believe girls should be able to wear tube tops, shorts, and mini skirts without being seen as provocative. I believe boys should be able to do just the same. Everyone should feel comfortable wearing what they please, especially if no harm is being done in doing so. Whether you agree or not is up to you, but one apparent truth in all of this is that it’s time for change. As our school continues to grow, so should its rules evolve. Only then will we finally reach the level of security and equity that the dress code is supposed to promote, without taking away the liberties we are given as citizens at birth.