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A less restrictive dress code would empower female students

Zoe Bowman, Creative Director

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Anywhere a person goes, there are always certain expectations, including what constitutes appropriate dress. You wouldn’t show up to a funeral in a leather skirt and fishnets with a bustier.  I understand that there has to be a dress code at school, and I understand that it’s important so that all students remain respectful of one another. However, I also believe that if a student is harassed by a classmate, or targeted sexually, at times it can be perceived that it is her fault for the clothing choices that she has made.

A girl’s bare shoulder does not interfere with her education; however, it is apparently suggestive to the male students around her. How is it fair for young women, who are supposed to be learning how to live in the real world, to remain accepting of a place that blames women?  Dress codes within school settings should not be built around keeping boys in check by placing the full responsibility upon girls. If a young man cannot handle himself if he sees a girl’s midriff, then clearly we have a larger problem.

If it seems like men cannot control themselves, then we need to focus our attention on teaching them not only to be respectful of women, but also to teach others how to be respectful. While the arguably overly restrictive dress codes at schools are well intentioned, I believe that high school boys don’t really care if they see a girl’s shoulder or not. If swimmers, water polo players and cross country runners can handle being around one another with limited clothing on their bodies, I think that students in a classroom setting can handle themselves, as well. However, older generations still don’t think we are mature enough. We are.

If we are not given the opportunity to show that we are mature and we can handle simple things like a bare shoulder, then how are we going to handle adulthood?

If we had a less rigorous dress code, it would destigmatize a young woman’s clothing choices and make her feel more confident that she is going to be respected regardless of what she wears. We are living in a time where there is a shift in empowering women, and it is important for our school to consider how a less restrictive dress code would appropriately challenge students to demonstrate their maturity and readiness to respect one another in all circumstances.

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The student news site of Laguna Beach High School
A less restrictive dress code would empower female students