The classroom is not the beach, young lady. But it's not a convent, either. So why are administrators and busybody parents so fascinated with teenage girls' boobs, butts and thighs? We're sick of adults imposing arbitrary moral standards on female students' attire for fear they'll "distract" their fellow classmates. The dress code itself isn't necessarily the problem; it's the reasoning behind it.
"Generation Fabulous" blogger Vivienne Wagner/most embarrassing mom of the week recently attended* her 8th grade son’s "Academic Awards Ceremony" (Fancy!) and was so shocked to find "exceptionally bright and disciplined" girls pursuing "hoochie-ism" that she took photos of said teen hoochies and titled them "examples of why I'm glad I don't have daughters."
"Now it should be clearly stated that these must all be absolutely exceptional young women," she stressed. "Academic awards, after academic awards, after academic awards were claimed by these girls." Which means…what? That a 14-year-old's value doesn't have anything to do with how many inches of thigh she's showing at graduation?
Lindy once reminded us that the definition of modesty is historically related to "womanly propriety." (Blergh.) It's a gendered term that implies certain behavior is appropriate for virtuous women and certain behavior (tube tops) is not. "The idea that society can tell you how much of your body to reveal or hide implies that your body does not belong to you," Lindy wrote. Exactly. Parents like Wagner — or, way worse, school administrators — who impose rules mandating how much skin girls are allowed to show based on their personal beliefs regarding good girls vs. slutty mcsluts imply that women are responsible for covering themselves up so as not to tempt men (or, you know, general ruin).
Here are some recent school dress code controversies:
A New Jersey school prohibited girls from wearing strapless dresses to a dance; as a compromise, board members said they would allow single-strap gowns and clear spaghetti straps. Reason? Some parents said they were told that strapless dresses would be too "distracting" for boys.
A Northern California middle school banned girls from wearing tight pants. Reason? They distract boys.
A Minnesota high school went one step further and banned girls from wearing tight pants with short tops. Reason? The look can "be highly distracting for other students."
A Cincinnati high school asked two girls to leave prom for being "inappropriately dressed." Reason? Appropriate dresses "can have no curvature of the breasts showing." Too bad for adolescent girls who've progressed beyond training bra status!
Of course, not all school administrators who set dress codes are puritanical Scrooges who secretly jerk off to the skimpy tank tops they confiscate on the regular. Teen girls are systematically hypersexualized and objectified and some teachers (we hope) don't want them to play into that and think they have to wear tight clothes to be admired. But if the purpose is not to hypersexualize or objectify, maybe don't take photos of their headless bodies, or set arbitrary rules that seem geared towards making teachers feel comfortable rather than ensuring the well-being of teenage girls.
This is pretty basic stuff: teaching teenagers that girls shouldn't wear certain clothes if they don't want to distract or tempt boys is just like telling women to avoid dressing like sluts if they don't want to be raped.
Sexist middle/high school dress codes hold girls responsible for having girly bodyparts. But what does a nonsexist dress code look like? Certain attire isn't appropriate for school — just like you wouldn't wear a crop top to court (unless you're in the Bling Ring) or workout gear to a wedding — but "appropriate" can't mean "antithesis of whore." I'm honestly not sure. Any teachers/know-it-alls (we kid, we kid) in the house want to share their thoughts?
*That link is care of my BFF Google cache; Wagner took the original post down a few hours after posting. Maybe the parents of her sons' classmates weren't super pleased that she was shit-talking their kids on the internet?