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Dear Society: I Don’t Need to Change, You Do

Very+possibly+in+the+future%2C+female+students+will+be+expected+to+be+completely+covered+in+order+to+meet+dress+code+requirements.
Very possibly in the future, female students will be expected to be completely covered in order to meet dress code requirements.

Very possibly in the future, female students will be expected to be completely covered in order to meet dress code requirements.

Lillian Hui

Lillian Hui

Very possibly in the future, female students will be expected to be completely covered in order to meet dress code requirements.

Lillian Hui, Editor-in-Chief

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Dear Society,

I just want to ask one question; why are you judging someone based on how they dress? Clothing is a free form of expression that, whether we know it or not, is a part of each of us. We may say, “I don’t care what I wear, I just pulled this out of my closet,” but by putting on any article of clothing, we are expressing ourselves. So why is it wrong for a boy to wear a tank top or for a girl to wear short shorts? What’s wrong with expressing yourself with clothing that speaks to you?

The clothing we wear is an extension of the type of person we are, but that doesn’t mean it represents everything about us. Just because a guy wears pink doesn’t mean he’s gay nor does it mean when a girl is wearing a shorter top that she is “seeking attention”.

We label people based on what they’re wearing because we don’t have any other way to categorize them upon first impressions. But the problem is that not everything is black and white. Just because you dress a certain way, it is not a single representation of your personality or your ability. It’s a small part of you that holds some special value, showing your confidence and style. So why are we putting people down for showing who they are? Or, the more important question, why are we using a dress code to restrict our clothing choices?

Very commonly, students are told they are not following the dress code and it is broadcasted all over the media. At the beginning of September, four female middle-school students sat in front of their Portland Public Schools board to show how biased the dress code was. One girl was told her skirt was too short, while the other was sent home for violating the dress code by wearing leggings and a sweatshirt. What does this even mean? These are common situations happening everywhere; students are told they violate the school dress code and are sent to the office to wait for a parent to drop off new clothes. The irony throughout the whole ordeal? Students miss out on important class time all because of a tank top not fitting the “three finger rule” or for a top revealing a collar bone.

What’s most disturbing about the dress code? It most often targets female students. Most dress codes list “inappropriate attire” as bare midriff, sheer clothing, and basically anything that reveals an undergarment. Who would typically wear a “bare midriff” top or would cause a distraction for showing a bra strap? Is it a male? Most often the “offenders” fall into the female category.

Fellow “The Lance” writer, Amanda Martinez,  reviewed the dress code at New Milford High School in an award-winning editorial, and also pointed out the double standard. Martinez concluded the article with the statement, “The dress code isn’t going anywhere anytime soon, but at the very least we can make sure everyone gets reprimanded the same way, regardless of gender.” Written very eloquently, this speaks volumes. If a girl is going to be called down to the office for wearing a spaghetti strap top, then a boy should be called down to the office for wearing a tank top that is showing more than just the arms.

I can personally relate to this dress code issue as I’ve been told my shorts were too short. However, in reality they weren’t because they followed the old-school rule of being “fingertip length”. Yet I later discovered it wasn’t my pair of shorts that created the issue, it was that my t-shirt was relatively longer in comparison to my shorts. The longer shirt created the illusion of non-existent shorts which caught the attention of an elementary school student’s parent. And I found this to be disappointing – extremely disappointing.

In our everyday world we have created a certain idea of how we should look. We need to dress a certain way in order to appear “appropriate” and “professional” and if we don’t fit the criteria, we are judged and practically ridiculed. The funniest part of this ordeal though, is that we praise males who don’t always fit the “appropriate” look. If a man has a certain physique and is deemed “handsome” by others, it is decent for them to be topless and just wear jeans or shorts. But if the man is considered even the least bit overweight and does not have a shirt on, he is “gross” and “a pervert” even if the weather is in the high 90s. With women, just wearing a sheer top and a bralette is enough to drive the world insane. So why the stigma? Or should I really ask, why is this even an issue?

We are in a day and age when we all speak about equality for everyone around the world. Yet even the most basic forms of equality are lacking; races are still feeling inferior to each other and women are constantly put down when in comparison to men.

If we are the generation that will be leading the world in a considerably short amount of time, we need to make changes. We need to change how men and women are looked at and we need to erase the stigma about females being different from males because we’re basically the same. We look the same and we have the same hopes and dreams. What sets us apart is society forcefully telling us we are different.

But how do we begin making these changes? Begin in the schools and teach little boys and girls they are really equal among each other. There is no better gender because at the end of the day, we are all human. Maybe if we create these changes, the future will be brighter and we won’t have adults judging students for the way they dress. Maybe boys will dress as they choose and maybe the same will go for girls.

We will never know about the future unless we make these changes in the present. Let’s start small and change the dress code in our schools; teach boys how to have self control and teach girls how to love themselves. By doing this, maybe it will change how our society views superiority among each other. Because at the end of the day, we are all the same no matter how we look or dress.

 

A tank top and "short" shorts in many schools is deemed inappropriate for girls.

 

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The student news site of New Milford High School, New Milford, New Jersey
Dear Society: I Don’t Need to Change, You Do