School dress codes unfairly target and objectify women


The country is constantly overwhelmed with hot news, one of the most prevalent pertaining to dress codes in high schools. Beginning in August of this year, the dress code at CHS has emerged more so than in the past, but now with a negative connotation. The school’s increasingly strict dress code is sexist, ineffective and degrading to womankind.

Within a high school, the job of the administration and staff is to ensure that students are treated fairly and feel welcome and safe. Many rules and limitations on high school campuses are put in place to satisfy these goals; however, a dress code is not one of these productive actions. While some rules about clothing are merely safety precautions, most dress code restraints have been set in motion to prevent male students from being “distracted” by female bodies.

On the surface, this logic seems fairly reasonable, even beneficial. Trouble only rises when reading further into the message behind dress code. Society today has prioritized self-love and self-confidence through media, education and more; yet this motto is directly contradicted when a school stresses the importance of covering up and refraining from showing female physique. The supposed fair and welcoming environment centered around the furthering of education instead broadcasts the idea that the female body should be hidden. Natural features cannot be displayed, for fear of prying eyes. This environment, rather than encouraging the youth, sets an unrealistic and overall harmful expectation that young girls are responsible for boys’ wandering eyes and constant stares. A boy’s focus in school is connected to nothing other than his dedication to do well and succeed.

“The dress code at our school is such a joke,” said senior Jessica Ross. “Dress codes are unfairly aimed at female students who are only trying to express themselves. There is no good reason for a high school to have a strict dress code. If boys cannot control themselves in the presence of their female peers, then they are the problem, not the girls.”

The dress code not only causes girls to feel ashamed of their own bodies, but it also gives them the impression that their bodies are sexual. Regardless of what women wear, the prominence of a dress code implies that no boy can view a girl without immediately having immature thoughts. The absurdity of this statement is clear, yet schools continue to justify dress codes as a necessity. This is a real life example of female objectifying which is the act of treating a woman as a mere object of sexual desire. If nothing else, the dress code legitimizes boys’ inability to control their own minds in the presence of the opposite gender.

“Dress codes themselves make teens feel more awkward than they already feel at this age,” said senior Deborah Gordon. “Girls don’t want to be looked at as sexual objects who have to cover themselves up, and boys don’t want to be looked at as immature animals who will be distracted by anything a young woman wears.”

Another concerning topic is administration’s willingness to value how a student dresses over his or her education. When staff forces a student to miss class in order to change into different clothes, they are exhibiting their disregard for a student’s education. Even more, the school has said that students may receive a “referral to office, parent contact, change of clothing, trash pick-up and/or in-school suspension” simply because they are not dressed to satisfaction of the school. Public embarrassment as punishment for not being dressed “appropriately” is degrading and should not be permitted.

While CHS administration supports students’ right to self-expression, they have a duty to enforce a district dress code. Principal C.J. Foss has listened to student input, but also feels a responsibility to respect the wishes of teachers and parents in the community.
“As an educational school in an educational setting, part of our job is teach students that there are appropriate ways to do things and there are inappropriate ways to do things,” said Foss. “Part of going to school is dressing appropriately.”

There will always be guidelines for appropriate dress, whether at school, a party or a friendly get together. While this holds true, dress codes in general disproportionately target female students for their body development and physique, labeling them as sexual and therefore distracting. •