Is the Dress Code Necessary?
Updated: Sep 28, 2021
by Jayden M
Imagine you’re walking into school. You’re wearing something that makes you feel good and confident--something that expresses who you are. But as soon as you step foot in the building you have staff members constantly lingering around you telling you to change or cover up. This scenario is a reality for plenty of people at our school; it happens everyday. We’re told that we’re too distracting for our classmates because of what we wear. We’ve been told this same thing our entire lives, regardless of what schools we’ve gone to. What is this teaching young girls, or even young boys?
The Mountain Range school handbook states, “Inappropriately sheer, tight, short, or low-cut clothing that bares or exposes traditionally private parts of the body, including but not limited to, the stomach, buttocks, upper thigh, back and breasts is prohibited;”. This is point 2.2 in the section “Student Dress Code”: the fourth point made in the section. This point comes before 3.9, stating that clothes or accessories that can be used as weapons or could injure people are prohibited. It also comes before 3.11, stating that trench coats and other jackets that could be used to conceal weapons are prohibited. When the handbook organizes the specific rules of the dress code so that one of the first rules is to not show “traditionally private parts”, and one of the last rules is to not wear clothes that you can use to hide weapons, it perpetuates an importance and value of control and restriction over safety.
I interviewed seven random Mountain Range students--consisting of multiple genders, races, and grade levels--asking them three questions: have you ever been “dress-coded”, do you agree with the dress code, and what is one specific thing you like/dislike about the dress code. Four out of the seven students reported having been dress-coded, and all participants claimed that they disagree with the dress code. Mountain Range senior Araiya Archuletta states, “I saw a boy wearing a white, see-through shirt and the entire day no one dress-coded him”. Mountain Range junior Keeley Haynes similarly states, “the dress code is rooted in misogyny and disproportionately affects girls”. Some other examples of their answers when asked about something specific they liked or disliked were it being targeted toward/over-sexualizing young girls, repressing individuality and creating a sense of shame, and it being unnecessarily controlling. Mountain Range senior Vanessa Sierra states, “the dress code keeps me from wearing the things I like and makes me feel like I have to hide my body and be ashamed of it”. An overall common theme amongst all of the students’ answers was a contempt for the overt emphasis on dress codes for the young girls in the school.
The Mountain Range school handbook also referred to “traditionally private parts” that should be covered up, which included the stomach, back, and upper-thigh. Out of the seven Mountain Range students interviewed, six were asked what they considered a “private part” to be, and if they’d ever been distracted by what someone was wearing in school to the point that it obstructed their ability to learn. No participants considered the stomach, back, or upper thigh to be private parts, and no participants claimed to have ever had their learning interfered with due to the clothing of a classmate.
Mountain Range creates their dress code rules based on “traditional” ideas of “private parts”. However, more traditional ideas and types of clothing would largely restrict women and what they could show, and had no such regulations for men. It’s also apparent that traditional style clothing isn’t worn today, and when the majority of Mountain Range students today agree that the dress code disproportionately affects girls and disagree with the “traditional” ideologies behind it, maybe it’s time for a revision.