The CHS dress code stifles creativity, encourages sexism and promotes objectification of students

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Adolescence is a journey, and certainly one full of struggles. As cliché as this statement sounds, it is true; teenagers are constantly trying on new personas in order to craft their own identity and discover their true self. As rewarding as it can be in the end, this process can be embarrassing, exhausting and sometimes even painful. Therefore, the amount of support offered by the people with whom these kids surround themselves and the places in which they spend their time is a decisive factor in the overall happiness during this stage of their lives. High school should be a nurturing home full of positivity, but unfortunately, one of CHS’s policies does not exemplify this ideal. CHS’s dress code, first enforced in 2011 and augmented in recent months with the new “Dress for Success” raffle tickets, suggests gender bias against women, oppresses self-expression and embarrassed girls for wearing weather-appropriate clothing; it is ineffective and unfair

Compared to the rest of the country and the rest of the world, CHS is an extremely progressive school. It actively advocates anti-bullying, anti-racism, free speech and Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender, and Questioning – also known as LGBTQ – rights. However, women’s rights, as they often are, seem to still be swept under the rug. The dress code, a policy in which administrators and other faculty members punish female students for wearing clothes deemed immodest – this includes short-shorts, shorts with fringe, clothing with intentional distress and low-cut shirts – perpetuates a double standard since boys are seldom dress coded, even if their clothes reveal almost as much skin as the girls’ do.

“Not only does the dress code shame girls in order to not ‘distract’ guys, it embarrasses girls for wearing really the only kind of shorts that are sold in stores these days,” said junior class president Anna Winter. “It’s what’s in style.”

What one chooses to display on his or her body is one of the most public and powerful forms of self-expression. Boy or girl, one’s clothing can tell the world as much or as little about oneself as that person desires. During adolescence, students are searching for their true personality while constantly being berated with labels and rankings. Therefore, this outlet of expression should not be stifled. Unfortunately, the dress code is a suffocating factor. Students should not have to hide from those who are supposedly aiding the development of their mental and emotional identities just because their shorts have fringe.

Perhaps to introduce a friendlier façade for the dress code or perhaps because it did not prove as effective as intended, the CHS administration recently began distributing “Dress for Success” raffle tickets to students whose attire meets its criteria. Despite its mask of positive reinforcement, this practice still puts down certain girls by rewarding others with “better” clothes. Judging someone’s eligibility to win a prize based entirely on the way they present themselves on a particular day is not only degrading, it is not effective. Dress coding rates are at their highest in the early fall and late spring months, the hottest of the year. Despite the raffle tickets’ good intentions, sweltering Southern Calif. heat will almost always dominate a fear of punishment for one’s attempt to be comfortable.

Evidently, the dress code is not beneficial. It is neither a deterrent to wear the clothes one already owns nor a catalyst for academic success, which is on what an educational institution should be focused. On the contrary, the dress code often sends students home to change their clothes, which causes them to miss class and fall behind in their schoolwork. Fear, punishment and passive-aggressive comments are not effective ways to teach a lesson. Schools, including CHS, should not be at odds with their students but instead should work with them to accomplish its goals. •

CONTRADICTING: (right) the shorts on the left with fringe were deemed immodest while the shorts on the right (relatively the same length) were accetpted by the school dress code; (far right) a “Dress for Success” raffle ticket.

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