When it comes to implementing dress codes in schools, I agree with setting certain guidelines and encouraging students to dress appropriately for the classroom setting.
What I don’t agree with is telling our daughters to stop donning certain duds because they are distracting dudes.
I remember reading an article back in 2017 titled Dear principal who flagged my daughter’s dress code violation, in which a mother shares a cheeky letter aimed at her daughter’s principal on Today.com. She explained the challenges some parents face when trying to abide by the conservative codes set out by many schools.
The author, Catherine Pearlman, invites the principal to take her 13-year-old daughter - who stands five-foot-seven-inches tall - on a shopping trip to find what has been deemed “appropriate” clothing.
The important point she makes is summer clothing made available to tween and teen girls is mostly comprised of short shorts, spaghetti strap tank tops, and yoga pants. To find other options is a near-impossible feat.
Add to that the picky preferences of a growing teen girl - no dresses, nothing pink, purple, or covered in frills - and you’d be strapped to find anything suitable for summer wear in school.
While the author of the article makes a good point about clothing marketed to our daughters, there is a more important message shared at the end.
The author concludes with a sarcastic, “P.S. I forgot to thank you for making it clear to my daughter that her body is somehow a distraction to the boys. I thought she might have missed the message earlier in the year when the gym teacher told her she couldn’t wear yoga pants because the boys aren’t able to control themselves. I appreciate how hard you are working to drive the point home.”
It’s this message that I especially don’t like. We are telling girls not to dress a certain way because it distracts the boys, when really we should be teaching them how to dress appropriately - for no one but themselves.
The message shouldn’t be to dress a certain way because it causes others to act inappropriately, it should be to dress appropriately when you’re in certain situations for your own benefit.
Just as you wouldn’t wear a crop top and cut-offs in a corporate boardroom meeting, the way one dresses for a classroom setting should coincide (at least somewhat) with what is being done in class.
Studies have shown that dressing for success is more than just an adage. When people dress well for work, their productivity goes up, as does their confidence.
That being said, there are dress codes that are totally outdated and in need of a refresh. Boys need be brought into the conversation, too. Not only should they be taught which behaviours are and are not appropriate when it comes to how they treat girls, but there should be dress codes put in place for them as well.
If we’re going to put dress codes in place, let’s do it for a purpose to praise, not to prevent perverts from pawing when they see the sight of skin or a peekaboo bra strap.
Bianca Bujan is a mom of three, writer, editor, and marketing consultant. Find her on Twitter @biancabujan and Instagram @bitsofbee.