In a recently published article by Cambio, 17-year-old Sabrina Bergsten wrote about her personal experience with high school dress codes. She wrote that dress codes are sexist and implied that schools which enforce such rules and codes of conduct are putting boy’s education before the education of girls by making a distraction-free environment.
However, I beg to differ. There are laws and codes of conduct in every workplace and school environment. When applying for a job, applicants are voluntarily promising to follow set rules and guidelines, from how co-workers are to be treated, to following the dress code. The same goes for the school environment.
Stephanie Doyle, vice president for the school board at Emerald Heights Academy on the topic of dress codes, explained her view on the subject and the need for these dress codes:
“Dress codes or the use of uniforms in schools should not be viewed as trying to hide or hold back one’s true self but as a way to create a place where boys and girls do not feel the need to bow to the ideas of society and social media. If a girl wishes to dress in a cute way but her clothes show too much skin, we must ask ourselves ‘is she dressing to be provocative and draw attention to herself or is she dressing like this to feel good about herself.’”
It is not fair to say that dress codes are sexist when the administration is trying to create an environment dedicated specifically to learning purposes. School is not intended to focus on what people are wearing, but to be a place of learning. Saying that dress codes are in favor of boys is not a valid argument. Boys are expected to follow the rules of dress in schools just like girls, it may be easier for them but it does not favor them, nor can we say that dress codes are in favor of a “distraction free learning environment” for only boys, what about those who are lesbian or bisexual? Would they not be just as distracted as a boy if a girl were to walk into class wearing short shorts?
Girls have a harder time with following such rules or finding dress codes sexist because there are clothing stores that sell clothes that do not follow the rules of dress, whether the dress is too short or the top is too low cut.
The push for dress codes and uniforms is to promote virtues and characteristics that are lacking and not being taught to young children and teens in our current times. Many of those who work in the school system want to help young children and teens become better people, not hold them back from who they are or their potential as an individuals.
In the world of success, perception and making impressions are important and key to the success in one’s career. Just as a company wants to project an image of professionalism, so does a school wish to portray an image of intellect and professionalism, and one way to project this image is through the appearance of employees and students.