Decoding the Dress Code

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.  


Bittersweet Being

By Diana Melgar


Oh Loud Joy

Mariachi and reggaeton

The beat and rhythm they bring

Instruments, played quick and strong 

Dancing with all those around

Loud laughter replacing embarrassment

Bodies turning and swinging

The cheers and yells of those sitting

Resting till the next song 


Running away as pop-its hit near my feet

Birds singing proudly in the morning

Strong wind rustling leaves and hair 

Dogs barking, robust and playful

The slap of a soccer ball being kicked

The flow and strength of Spanish 

Words confidently spoken

Sung in music never ending


Oh Deep Afflictions 


Rifts in my family 

Fights and conversation I have yet to understand

Silent words screaming in my mind

the stickiness of barley dried tears

Losing a home to flames and heat

Witnessing the slow breaking of a person

Hearing their weeps and sobs

Comforting wails of regret and apologies 


Being a cause of lament

Anger and frustration of wrong doings

A sickening smell of alcohol

The counterfeit of  righting wrongs

Going back and forth, one parent to another 

Not knowing why I cry or feel so low

Taking for granted everything I have


Oh Quiet Bliss


A very specific sweet scent of light pink roses

A red muddy color and roughness of bricks

Creaky stairs, floors, and doors 

Cozy and close feel of the rooms

The smell of new and old books 

Sunlight from my mother’s window 

The largeness of her bed

The orange and red of a setting sun 


Long car rides in a packed car

From Texas to New York

Resting heads on another’s shoulder

Quiet nights of blissful sleep 

Beauty proudly beaming at night  

The cool air and the shining lights

Warm embraces overflowing with love 

Quiet laughter following uncontrolled howling


Oh Bittersweet Being


Reflections of memories, of feelings, and sensation 

All I have felt, thought, done, and seen

A collection always growing in my mind

Loud joy, deep afflictions, quiet bliss

All I am 

Such bittersweet being