Friday, April 24, 2015

In the news: high school dress code too strict?

I've decided I'm going to bring back my "In the News" series because now that I have time on my hands and some thoughts together, I figure it's time. It's time to bring it back.

In the news today is actually an article from a local newspaper in regards to a student's outfit being too revealing and a violation of a dress code. The student, who is 14, thinks her outfit is just fine and is outraged at being "shamed" in school. You can read the article HERE.

First and foremost, the girl with the sweatshirt and jeans? She's fine. Seriously. The complaint was that if she moved around too much, you might see her bra strap. Well, the fine makers of a lot of women's clothing forget that most women have to wear a bra and make the neck hole in a way that you see a bra strap. It happens. Seriously. It's not like it's one of those off the shoulder sweatshirts where you are meant to see the bra strap, which is tacky as it is. It's not cute, folks.

But the other girl? Yes, I can see where the school has issue. Some talking points I've seen in the comments section is that while she has tights on, they are see through. Her skirt is meant to be a high-waist one. Maybe her parents can't afford better. Things of this nature. Here are my arguments:

  • The school these girls go to a school where parents pay tuition. It's not considered a public school, this is separate from the public school system. So an issue of whether a parent can afford specific attire doesn't seem like an argument I'd make off hand. If you can't afford to clothe your child appropriately, you likely cannot afford to send them to a school which requires you to pay tuition. 
  • The dress code for the school is pretty clear. You can't wear spaghetti straps and the one girl is wearing a dress that has spaghetti straps. 
  • The skirt is too short. It really is. I know a lot of young women wear similar outfits, but they are over the age of 18 and the law says they can make decisions for themselves. But as a mother who has a daughter, there isn't a chance my daughter would wear a skirt that short, even with the tights.
  • Because the tights are see through. I think every woman out there can honestly agree that if this girl were to bend over to get her pencil, something out of her locker, in gym class, whatever- you'd see that weird line in the upper thigh of a pair of tights and that's too much. Too much for other 14 year old boys to be seeing. Let alone the fact that in some circumstances, you'd likely see more. 
  • And let's say she's working diligently at her desk and is dutifully writing out her assignments. The act of bending over to write could (and probably would) cause her top to gap open so you could see the top of her breasts. That's not OK. I don't want anyone to see my daughter's breasts. 
What gets me is how offended the girl was, and I'm assuming her mother was, as being told that her outfit wasn't OK for school. Instead of saying, "Wow- I guess I didn't realize" and having mom bring her an outfit, she feels "shamed" and "humiliated". Get over yourself. You're 14. I can't even emphasize the fact that you are 14 enough- life is full of rules and expectations. We don't always like them, we don't always agree, and we may not always understand them, but nonetheless, we're expected to follow them. That's just how life works. 

(This is where all of the "to hell with the system" and "stand your ground" groups will chime in.) 

When I was a kid, there isn't a chance in hell my mom would have let me out of the house in that. It wouldn't have even been purchased. I wouldn't even think to ask for it because I knew better. I got to wear a plain, ill fitting white bra from Walmart until I was 18. Only then, with my own money, did I venture to Victoria's Secret and I bought a pink bra. My mom found it in the wash and demanded where the hell I got it and who did I need to impress with a pink bra. 

I didn't get to wear makeup until I was in high school and even then, all I got was pressed powder and the palest pink eye shadow that basically looked like my skin color. And Lip Smacker chapstick. When I got my first job I bought other makeup and my mom showed me how to put it on but it was clear that if I had too much on, I'd be told to take it off and that would be the end of that. At the time this all seemed really strict because I had friends who got to wear sweatpants with "juicy" written on their butts and full makeup, got their nails done, work shirts where you could clearly see their push up bras, etc. Not me. Nope. 

But as I grew up, I understood why my parents were so strict. Because in my late teens and early 20's, you never saw me acting wild. You never saw me dressing to impress for a boy. I was a Billabong t-shirt, blue jeans, and Vans kind of a girl. You either liked me for me or you didn't. I wasn't going to show you my tits, you were never going to see my thong, and I certainly didn't get a tramp stamp. Because my parents, unbeknownst to me, was teaching me how to value myself. That what my body could advertise wasn't important. That I could be worthy of affection even if you couldn't see what I had under my clothes. 

Which ended up working out because I can't say I've ever had body image issues. Do I wish I were thinner? Sometimes. I was always realistic enough to know I wasn't going to be skinny, that I'm genetically gifted with breasts and a bubble butt. I can't change genetics, but I can be healthy. Which is the goal I have for my children; to teach them that what they have is good enough, you don't have to enhance it or draw attention to it. Which sadly, is not the lesson this girl is getting from her mom. And to me, that's the tragedy here. It's not that she has an outfit she can't wear to school. It's not that she's mad the rules won't be bent for her. It's that her parents not only condone the outfit but her behavior. So now not only have you taught her that walking the line of what's appropriate and not at school is OK, and that it's OK to possibly give her classmates a show because they shouldn't judge her based on what she wears, but now you've taught her that if she complains enough, she'll get attention and she might get her way. Which is everything we're told not to do when we become parents. Don't give your screaming toddler the toy in the store otherwise you've taught them that screaming = toy. And that? That's what's wrong with today's kids and the coming generation. They haven't learned that actions have consequences. And consequences aren't meant to be fun. 


Ruth said...

In my daughter's school some of the girls wear leggings as pants. I have not seen it, but she says it is bad. They do have a dress code about shirts and bras and stuff, but it isn't consistent. Some of it, I don't really agree with but those are the rules.
Most girls today don't seem concerned with showing bra straps. Things are so different from when I was in high school.

Anna (herding cats-burning soup) said...

Articles like this always drive me crazy. Especially when people jump to defend the girl or boy in question and how DARE the school have a dress code. Really I think school uniforms across the board would not be a bad thing. It's amazing what kids and young adults think is appropriate these days and that they should be able to do anything and everything they want regardless of rules or class. So glad I don't have kids some days.