Opinion: A body shaming dress code


Dennae Pigford, Review Staff

Feature photo by: Dennae Pigford- Junior Hailey Martin sits in the commons during her off hour. Martin, among other female students, can be seen showing her shoulders, stomach, or other frowned upon parts of the body during school hours. 

It feels as if there’s always been a heated debate on school dress code rules. Arguments range from whether or not the rules are fair, to fights about what’s too far when enforcing the rules.

However, the issue that is plaguing my generation is the seemingly sexist influences behind so many of the enforced dress code rules.

Some of the rules that I witness or have experienced being enforced are girls being discouraged from wearing tank tops, crop tops, shorts that come above mid thigh, and most recently, no jeans worn with rips above the knees.

Rangeview administration, headed by Vice Principal Hartford, announced this new policy the first week back from winter break this year. The following week, the policy was retracted in a staff wide email that encouraged teachers and staff to use their own evaluation to determine whether or not jeans are appropriate or not.

That being said, I know and understand that so many people push beyond the limits of what I consider to be ‘jeans’. But the real issue that needs to be addressed is whether or not school dress codes are unintentionally targeting and even body shaming young girls.

I can recall so many times that I was told I shouldn’t wear something because of a boy.

“Aren’t you afraid that the boys will look at you,” my teacher said.

“Go put something else on, there are men around,” my mother warned.

I remember being told to go to the office to change in my 8th grade year because, and I quote, “Your leggings are pretty tight. You should put some sweats on so that the guys don’t get the wrong idea.”

Senior Angel-Kaye Luna stands in the hallway during passing period. Many students can be seen trying to bypass dress code rules with baggy cardigans or jackets (Dennae Pigford).

At 13, I felt that this teacher was right and that I should respect and obey. But now, I can’t believe that she actually said that to me; an impressionable mark in the history of me that shows that not only are men sexualizing my body without consent, but so are my female ‘role models’ — my teachers and coaches

For as long as I can remember, dressing for school meant that I had to have shorts that were longer than my fingertips, — lower than mid-thigh for my body — I couldn’t wear tank tops or any shirt that showed any part of my shoulders, and for a short time, I wasn’t aloud to wear leggings.

The reasons for these rules have varied depending on who I asked, but the bottom line that I have come to is that girl specific dress code policies are set to keep boys focused and not distracted. Now, being the liberal and outspoken person that I am, outraged doesn’t begin to explain how I feel.

My shoulders and my thighs and whatever else part of my body that I choose to show should be no one’s concern but my own. Boys who are “distracted” by my body are really none of my concern. They should be taught that a woman, or girl, is more than body parts and that it is downright disrespectful to ask them to change due to your immaturity and weaknesses.

Asking me to cover up so that your male staff members do not look at me is so much of a bigger problem that I can’t even fathom it. If they are looking at 13 year old, 15 year old, and 17 year old girls in a sexual or distracting way, then that is a problem not only for the administration to address but for the police to look into.

Not to speak of the fact that statistically, females are called out on dress code policies more often than males, despite the equal amount of violations. Boys wear muscle shirts and ripped jeans that show all of their underwear but I can not wear spandex shorts in gym or a tank top at the end of the year.

The RHS dress code is not the only one that needs revamping either, schools district wide and nationwide need to reconsider their dress codes. They need to take a hard look into whether or not their rules are unintentionally targeting girls.

This is a screen capture of the dress code rules for Rangeview High School published in 2016. This list of rules was republished shortly after winter break in order to remind students about the rules that they are expected to follow (Dennae Pigford).

The RHS dress code states that, “These rules apply any time a student is on campus or at any school activity.” However, I see so many guys disregarding these rules, walking straight past administrators without a second glance, but the minute you see the smallest sliver of my bra strap, the whole day is ruined.

“Clothes with offensive puns, language or graphics (including music groups or product names) or which are alcohol or drug related are not allowed.” Yet, I need all of my fingers and toes twice over to count the guys that have naked girls on their shirts and cuss words across their chests.

“Exposed underwear (boxers, bras, thongs, etc.) is not allowed.” But, half of the male student population sags to the point that it would be less obscene to not wear the pants.

Instead of telling me what I can’t wear to learn about US history, teach your boys to respect the female form. Instead of telling me that I can’t do what the boys do, treat me as an equal. Instead of implementing a dress code stricter than a uniform policy, make it understood that there is a time and place for everything.

I wear what I choose not only based on weather, but based on confidence. I am not going to wear a long sleeve shirt in 70 degree weather so that some boy in my English class will actually write his paper. The clothes that I wear to school should not require a wardrobe revamp because you see me as a sexual entity.

I refuse to let YOU tell me that my body should be covered because YOU chose to see me in a sexual way. The female body — my body — is a form of strength and energy and reliance. I do not show my shoulders and wear shorts because I want you to see me as a sex symbol.