Shoulders: the most revealing body part on a woman according to schools and their dress codes.
Schools enforce dress codes to prevent distractions and create a professional work environment for students to learn in. Although it may sound like a smart idea, these rules do more harm than good.
Schools implementing heavy dress code rules promote misogynistic values on young female students. Girls are obligated to wear certain types of clothes to prevent distractions during class. This reasoning holds sexist undertones. Essentially, dress codes imply that what a woman is distracting, but this is not the fault of females. This is a form of victim-blaming because it is being suggested that it is a woman’s fault for receiving unwanted attention.
Schools requiring unfair dress codes encourage misogynistic views on minors because it sexualizes, objectifies and shames their bodies.
In addition, some examples of students being sexualized through dress codes involve targeting certain body types. Some girls have more accentuated features compared to others. With this, schools tend to enforce a sexually biased dress code that disproportionately targets female students with different body types. It is this type of body shaming that creates a stigma for specific body types. Students’ bodies are being associated in a manner that objectifies their bodies.
In addition, by saying what someone wears affects another person’s concentration, they are implying that people are constantly looking at these female bodies in a sexual manner. Not only that but insinuating that the person looking cannot control their emotions. What someone is wearing should not be the problem, instead, it should be the person who feels the need to stare.
In middle school dances, it is common for teachers to dress code girls who showed their shoulders and underarms. Middle school dances do not apply to professional and educational environments, so why would teachers feel the need to tell them to cover up or why most of these rules aim for female students? In an article by the Pudding, researchers from California and Washington DC collected data that showed 77% of schools’ dress code policies specifically forbidding certain body parts directed at women. This gives out the message to students that they should be ashamed of their body physique.
Additionally, saying that it is an unprofessional environment for students suggests that what a girl wears is more important than her education. If you took off someone’s makeup or outfit, it does not make them smarter. It only changes their appearance. Whenever a girl is dress coded, they are forced to leave class as well. This interrupts their learning and their education.
Also, a lot of these dress codes do not take into account different body types of their students, specifically the fingertip policy. The fingertip policy helps schools determine whether the skirts or shorts a girl has on complies with the dress code or not by judging if their clothing passes their fingertips. This may seem like a fair policy, but it discriminates against many tall girls because they have longer arms. It will be harder for them to find clothes that are longer than their fingers.
Dress codes can also cause major discomfort for girls during hot weather. For many, an ideal outfit would be a tank top to allow freedom to their limbs so they would not sweat as much. Unfortunately, tank tops are seen as inappropriate, but there are not many substitutes in clothing. Forcing someone to wear something that contributes to their sweat creates a bigger distraction than the actual tank top itself. This is another problem because schools are not thinking about how it affects their students.
Boys rarely getting dress coded has to do with the fact that dress codes are not targeted for men. The only time you would ever see a male student get into trouble over what they are wearing is usually because of a hat or accessory that is deemed inappropriate due to logos. Items like that are easily changeable and will not get sent to the office.
Whatever a student chooses to wear should not be a problem for anyone else. Dress codes should not focus solely on female students because they contribute to society and their views on women.