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Why the School Dress Code is Actually Okay

The high school dress code is a topic that has received enormous amounts of attention over the years. It’s a topic that I’ve had a firm opinion on from the beginning: an opinion that friends and family have heard time and time again, but I’ve decided to take to a wider audience. Largely, the consensus seems to be that the dress code is unfair and sexualizes women. However, my opinion is that the dress code itself is not unfair, but rather the way it is enforced is.


One argument I hear a lot is that the dress code is too strict and that students should be free to wear what they want and express themselves. In general, I agree with this. However, there has to be limitations. Things you wear in your everyday life are different than what you would wear in a professional environment. School should be treated as a professional environment, similar to the workplace.


Now, I do realize there is a large difference between the workplace and school, and that’s why there is a large difference between the dress codes. You wouldn’t wear shorts to work, but you can wear them to school. There is leniency in the rule, but overall it is in place to maintain a professional environment. It doesn’t have to stifle self-expression when it is worked with. I love fashion and I love using it to express myself. I have never felt stifled by school dress code policies because they are, in general, not that strict.


Where the problem arises is in how the dress code is policed. Dress code violations tend to victimize females more often than males. I remember one time in high school, I wore a strapless romper to school with a cardigan over top. I had no intention of taking the cardigan off because I knew that strapless garments were against the dress code. As I walked by one teacher she graciously reminded me that I needed to keep my cardigan on, or I would be in trouble. I was being targeted without even violating the dress code. I felt it was unfair because while I was following the rules, there were other girls and boys who definitely weren’t. It seemed a little hypocritical to me. The dress code wasn’t the issue here, but the enforcement of it was. More than that, how could I take it seriously if I wasn’t seeing it actually enforced?


Despite the experience I had, I still firmly believe that the dress code isn’t the issue. The enforcement of it needs to change. Girls should not be held under scrutiny while boys have a ‘get out of jail free’ card. They should be held to the same standards. Also, there needs to be consistency. If one individual is targeted while many others go free, that isn’t fair either. The dress code is in place to keep schools clean, decent, and professional. The school setting is a semi-professional environment and should be treated as such. However, it is also a place where equal rights should apply. The same, or similar, treatment needs to be applied to all.


Meghan is a second year English Major at the University of Windsor. She is minoring in Environmental Science. Meghan loves fashion, reading and writing, and nature/the environment. She hopes to enter the world of Editing or Journalism after University. Meghan is excited to share her ideas and opinions with the Her Campus followers!
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