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Since entering the public school system, I have always been confronted with a handbook outlining my responsibilities as a student, and within that handbook, I was given something that I felt received more attention and ridicule – a dress code.

A dress code is defined by Dictionary.com as a set of rules specifying the … type of clothing to be worn by a group or by people under specific circumstances. 

As I entered high school, many young women, including myself, were going through bodily and hormonal changes, and having such a strict dress code made me feel targeted. We had no say over the freedom of our outfits, and failure to follow the dress code resulted in many students being pulled from their studies to discuss their clothing choice.

Many students’ learning has been hampered by dress codes. I spent my sixth grade year through my twelfth grade year of high school feeling as if my body was a distraction, as if I had to conceal what did not conform to societal norms.

Per the National Center for Education Statistics, In the 2017-18 school year, 42.6 percent of elementary schools, 61.6 percent of middle schools, and 55.9 percent of high schools reported that a strict dress code was enforced for their students.

Many genders, minorities, and gender identities are discriminated against by these dress codes.

While I disagree with a nude photoshoot on a historic campus that stands for so much more, FAMU Graduating Senior Terica Williams, 24, said it best: “I am living proof clothes do not define you.” Despite receiving criticism for her now-viral Instagram photos, I believe the message she was attempting to convey is one we should hear. Clothes do not define you, and they should not be used to constrain your education!

Liv Carter

Savannah '24

I am Olivia Carter and I attend Thee Illustrious Savannah State University. 🦋 21'-22' HerCampus Writing Coordinator!