Is the Dress Code Ethical?


Ava Welch

Canyon student wearing the outfit that got her dress-coded by her teachers and administrators.

As a girl, you’re taught certain things growing up. Never walk alone at night. Always be aware of your surroundings. Keep something on you to protect yourself, because you never know who could be around.

We’re taught to check the backseat of our cars as soon as we get in them, or how to know how to perfectly utilize a pepper spray can. We’re told to cover up and to keep our mouths shut, because boys don’t know how to control themselves under certain circumstances.

These ideas are drilled into our heads as soon as we’re old enough to comprehend them. But should these thoughts still plague our minds in a place like school, that’s supposed to be safe for people to express themselves without judgement?

If you ask any teenager in the United States, they’d probably tell you that their high school implements a dress code. The rules are simple enough; be dressed appropriately to learn. don’t wear anything that will distract yourself or others throughout the day.

Sounds easy, right? Not exactly.

Most schools will tell you that a dress code is necessary because it helps provide a good and safe learning environment for all students on campus. These dress codes were, of course, created because our education is what ranks most important to the administrators. This way we are prepared to provide our full attention to our studies, because that’s what is most important.

Yet every day girls are pulled out of their classes because a mere one inch of their midriff is visible or because their skirts didn’t quite meet the ends of their fingertips.

Almost every girl has had an experience with the dress code that they’d rather forget about. “One time, my teacher dress coded me in class when I was in the middle of having a panic attack. She knew I was having one too, and she knew the circumstances surrounding it, but she still sent me up to the SRC.” Jimena Ortiz, a junior, explained. “My shirt was barely showing an inch of my stomach, and I don’t understand how that is distracting my learning or anyone else’s. I was just disappointed because she clearly cared more about what I was wearing than my mental state in that moment.”

So is the dress code really being enforced to help us get the best education we can? Or is it simply established as another way to control students, specifically girls, from being able to express themselves freely when we already have so many rules to follow and things to worry about simply because we’re females?

“It’s ridiculous that these schools will ruin a whole girl’s day just because their bra strap is showing or because you can see their shoulders. I’ve heard so many stories from girls I know that have been both belittled and shamed by teachers or administrators for what they were wearing.” Junior Cassidie Macandilli expressed. “Unless it’s over-the-top inappropriate, I think girls should have the opportunity to wear whatever they want without judgement or fear of getting dress coded for something so small.”

So is the dress code ethically or politically correct? In this day and age, definitely not.

Every girl has taken notice as teachers and administrators stand outside the school and classrooms every day and look at our bodies with a prying eye. It’s uncomfortable, especially as what we wear and how we look are seemingly becoming more of a conflict of interest every day on campus. The scrutiny we see happening over the objection of our bodies and our expression does not express the kind of message that any school should want to exemplify.

Especially since we attend an outdoor school in a desert climate, girls should not be outwardly shamed by adults for what they choose to wear and be told that they are in the wrong. Instead, we should be conveying the idea that self-expression is an amazing thing for teenagers to be displaying, as well as teaching all males on campus that women’s bodies are not there to be objectified, and they should not make you uncomfortable either.

At many schools including one in our own district, Golden Valley, protests against the dress code have been organized by students. Students brought signs and gathered in large groups, trying to express to their schools that the strong enforcement of the dress code makes them feel objectives, uncomfortable, and barely even human; the trending Twitter tag #morethanadistraction proves that.

As more and more girls come face to face with the sexism that jointly works together with these dress code violations, more people are beginning to realize just how morally wrong the dress code is and the way that it blatantly objectives girls on their own school campuses, a place where they are supposed to be safe from all forms of hatefulness.

Eventually the message that girls around the country are trying to send about the discrimination of the dress code will be heard and taken seriously. But until then, we will not stop pointing out the flaws and defections of it until changes are made.