In sixth grade, I was caught and got in trouble for violating my school’s dress code. Let me explain to you just how strict the dress code was: no shorts above the knee, no writing or logos on shirts, no makeup, no nail polish, and the list goes on. It was funny to me that the dress code mostly only applied to girls, but that’s beside the point. I felt belittled when I was called out and now I am writing this because I’ve held a VERY long grudge.
Around the time I was twelve/thirteen, I was experimenting with makeup. This was not necessarily because I was insecure about the way I looked, but rather I was fascinated by makeup (and not much has changed). I asked my mother if I could start wearing makeup and she was totally fine with it and helped me pick out a mascara to wear. After all, I wasn’t wearing heavy or colorful makeup, but if I was why would it matter?
At school, I wore mascara, but I followed all of these other ridiculous/sexist dress code requirements. One day, my teacher pulled me aside after school and told me she noticed I was wearing mascara. She told me I had very nice eyelashes, but she didn’t want to see me wearing it again. This confrontation made my heart race and caused a lot of overthinking. From that point on, I felt really insecure at school and I began to think that I actually was ugly. “Did my mascara look bad? How did she know I was wearing it?” These were the thoughts I was having.
Now that I look back on it, middle school was a really hard time for me. Not only did I feel insecure about the way I looked and how I interacted with others, but I also started to struggle academically. So what if I wanted to wear mascara? It wasn’t unusual that I was doing this and I think that if you’re someone who wears makeup, you need to have a weird middle school phase where you fall on your face and make makeup mistakes. For example, bad winged eyeliner and so on. Now as a college student, I feel confident with no makeup while going to class, but that’s not to say that I don’t like to do fun makeup looks when going out. But I would feel confident either way. I realize now that this part of the dress code was especially harsh. Middle school, for most people, is a time that is really tough concerning body image. Long story short, if you have any younger siblings in middle school or if you happen to know any middle schoolers, give them a break. Chances are, they are going through some hard times.