By Natalie Gimignani
What makes a female’s outfit deemed inappropriate in a school setting? Why does it matter if they’re wearing shorts, or off-the-shoulder shirts when most of the population is born with the same set of body parts?
This overarching rule of dress code in public schools are bearing down on the bodies of many girls at an early age. With restrictions such as females are prohibited to wear pants above where their fingertips rest on their thighs, it teaches young girls that they need to cover their bodies in order for people to be happy, and for boys to concentrate.
At my public schools that I have attended in Baltimore, Maryland, teachers and supervisors would stand in the hallway stopping girls left and right to tell them that what they’re wearing is not suitable for the school environment, when all they did was wear an item of clothing that showed a piece of their body, (shoulders, thighs, etc.) or their bra straps.
After stopping them, the member of the school staff would tell them to go change into their gym uniform, which then publicly humiliates the girl for the rest of the day. But if the girl didn’t have their uniform, they would have to be sent home, or call a parent to bring them more suitable clothes to change into; thus, disrupting both the child and their parent in their busy days of learning and working.
I understand that some items of clothing should be restricted in a school setting; such as: gang paraphernalia, anything with profanity or racial slurs, and hoods that can cover the identity of someone who isn’t a student at that school; but for the mere sake of bra straps, that is ridiculous.
Why should females have to wear shirts that cover their bra straps when it is a normal clothing item that women wear? This is over sexualizing young girls for boys, setting up children to believe that women shouldn’t be able show their body parts since boys can’t control themselves. When young girls then go and don’t wear a bra, they get dress coded for that! A seventeen-year-old girl named Lizzy Martinez at Braden River Highschool in Florida chose to not wear a bra under a large, long sleeved t-shirt one school day due to a sunburn. She was sent to the Dean’s office when a teacher told her it was distracting, and a boy was laughing at her. Martinez was then forced to move around with a second shirt on in front of her administrators to see if her breasts moved. She found herself mortified and was then forced to put two Band-Aids on each nipple, which left her in tears and embarrassment. How would you feel to be publicly shamed for a collection of fat cells on your body?
Dress codes also force girls to cover up body parts that every human is born with, but that boys can show, such as their shoulders. Boys are allowed to wear tank tops that show off their shoulders, but since our culture body shames and over sexualizes women, they cannot do the same, which causes them to wear more clothing even if it’s hot. 42% of classrooms in the United States do not have any, or lack adequate air conditioning; including the middle school, I had attended. I know personally that this environment can make it very hard to learn due to the sweltering atmosphere and the sweat that is dripping on top of everyone’s bodies. But even on these hot days of over 90 degrees, girls still can’t wear tank tops, or shorts above where your fingertips meet your thigh; making it twice as uncomfortable and harder to learn for girls, then for boys. Thus, giving males a step up in life, as they are more comfortable with themselves and their surroundings, in their learning environment.
As a society, we need to stop body shaming and over sexualizing young girls, making them uncomfortable from a young age, and instead teach boys how to control their urges and not get distracted from a girl’s body part. And if boys do get distracted, they should be the one to be sent home instead of making girls self-esteem drop.