In the past week, I’ve read two stories about girls being sent home from school for dress code violations. Since I can’t remember where to find them to link you to them, you’ll just have to trust me when I say each of these girls was dressed so appropriately, I felt like I was looking at a Where’s Waldo of violation. One was wearing jeans, a top, and a cardigan. The other was wearing a mid-thigh length tunic over leggings.
The problem with the first girl? Her collar bones were showing. Her COLLAR BONES. I found the link to her article. This is a picture of what she was wearing. I should be so modest! Look at this child! She is dressed beautifully. I found the other link as well (Google is magical). That child isn’t dressed as nicely, but she is more covered up than some of the kids I see going into my son’s elementary school, and if that’s what sparking the imagination of young boys these days, we need to be more worried about ISIL recruitment tactics.
I do believe in dress codes. Let me say that right there. Without dress codes, I would have no reason to bother getting out of my pajamas in the morning, and you should just believe that if I were allowed to show up at work in yoga pants, I would. Because I would. I love my yoga pants, and the only reason I don’t wear them more places is because…it is hot in the summer. I wear them anywhere in the winter.
I also agree that some clothes can be distracting, not sexually, but just because. If your kid goes to school dressed like Pete Burns, people are going to be more interested in looking at your kid than the teacher because that is a lot of look to take in. If your kid goes to school dressed like a Baywatch poster, same thing. And let’s be very honest that many of us get dressed in order TO be looked at. We are trying to express something with our clothes, and we hope you are looking. When I spent twenty minutes getting a single braid just right, I bloody well hope you notice!
It’s silly to pretend that we aren’t all looking at each other, so it is silly to pretend that another person isn’t going to notice your Hooters t-shirt, or your booty shorts, and it is irresponsible of adults/parents to fly into outrage that their snowflake is sitting in the office for blatantly disregarding the school dress code. That out of the way: Collar bones? Seriously?
The problem is more often the dress code than the kid, and it is a truth that dress codes much more heavily restrict girls. Dress codes for boys generally translate to: Don’t be sloppy. Dress codes for girls translate to: Don’t be sloppy, or sexy, or alluring, or fashionable, or have breasts and thighs–seriously–hide those things.
I’m going to help schools across America right now. I’m going to compose a dress code that should help everyone. Ready?
- No exposed butt cheeks, or genitalia.
- No exposed nipples.
- No strapless, or spaghetti strap shirts.
- No exposed undergarments.
- No slogans on clothing, other than school spirit wear.
There. It is gender inclusive, and basically asks all kids not to show their bits. Beyond that, what do we really need? Fashion and social herding will take care of the rest. Because, listen, kids are going to be sexually distracted by one another no matter what they are wearing. It’s part of being kids. It’s part of being human.
Rather than focusing on bodies, we need to focus on behaviors. We need to teach all children, regardless of gender, what is and is not appropriate when it comes to respecting neighbors, and we need to give kids credit.
If boys weren’t able to control themselves around scantily clad girls, you’d never see one in a swimming pool, or waterpark because they would all be running for the toilets every five minutes. Give the boys some credit for being able to do algebra AND sit next to Cute Suzy at the same time.
And give Cute Suzy some credit for having brains that matter more than her boobs.
Stop telling boys that they can’t control themselves.
Stop telling girls that they are a distraction to boys.
Stop telling boys that if they can see a girl’s thighs, their brains shut off.
Stop telling girls that their bodies are the problem.
Stop telling boys and girls that male nipples are okay, but female nipples are dirty and bad.
Stop telling girls that wanting to look attractive makes them dirty and bad.
Stop telling boys that finding girls attractive is reason to hurt a girl.
Stop telling girls that a boy’s distraction-free education is more important than her own.
Stop telling boys that it is okay to marginalize and objectify girls based on how they are dressed.
Stop telling girls that their bodies are more important than their feelings.
Start telling children the truth: There are going to be times when you want to stare at someone, and feeling that is okay. Doing it is rude. Feel what you feel, but don’t always act on the feeling. Pay attention to your teacher, not the outfit of the person across the room because knowing where to place a comma is going to do you a lot more good in the long run, than fantasizing about where you’d like to place something else.