Dress code policies continue to police what women can and cannot wear in the name of so-called “decency.”
These policies do not help anything except continuing the outdated notion that a woman must hide her body so as not to attract the attention of men. It is time that we realize that it is not the girls that are sexualizing themselves, but the very dress codes that claim to be promoting modesty by pointing out what may or may not be inappropriate.
It’s as if administrators would rather have girls and women suffer from heat stroke than dare have them show scandalous skin in the sweltering summer. And the boys play along sometimes, yet again showing their own failure at social education.
It seems to all boil down to comfort, and an imbalance as to who gets to have it. Slowly, it’s become clear that boys and male employees have their work or school environment catered much more closely than a girl who is at school or work for the same reason.
These overboard dress codes are putting the so-called “comfort” of men first while simultaneously telling women of all ages that their bodies must be covered. They limit what girls can wear, in that anything too revealing is an invitation to be looked at and even harassed.
Take for instance back in March, when the New York Times reported that two girls would not be allowed on the plane unless they changed into something more appropriate and fit United Airlines dress code. One of them was ten years old and had to change into a dress.
The fact that a child was told that she must be dressed appropriately instead of putting her comfort first (that should be what airlines push for in the first place), shows the toxic idea that her body was a shameful thing that must be covered in the “right” places. And even then, it shouldn’t be appropriate to think about how a young girl’s body is fitting into clothes.
Sexualization such as this only hurts girls in the end, as seen in a report from the American Psychological Association. It is a leading cause of mental health issues in young girls.
These types of incidents are commonly dismissed, mostly because the clothing at the center of the situation is claimed to be the problem and they don’t follow policy and rules must be “obeyed.” However if the policy disproportionately targets women’s clothing, it cannot be called fair.
It is also ridiculous when people insist that none of this would be a problem if girls would have “respect” for themselves and realize they are more than their bodies, therefore they should cover up.
Sorry, but since when is a shoulder, a knee, a thigh or any other skin on the body a symbol of self respect? We continue to tell girls that their bodies are some sort of “sacred little flower”, which seems to just uphold that all girls are good for is their purity.
This also just contradicts the idea of a girl being more than her body. Yes, that’s correct. So since she’s more than her body, why then are people so concerned over her body in the first place? Let girls be.
Dress codes also target transgender and non binary youth, who may dress to fit the clothing norms of the gender they identify as.
But it is very contradictory to say that what women wear is distracting and promiscuous, when the very policies themselves are sexualizing in the first place.
If policies as extreme as these didn’t exist, it would not be seen as unnatural for a girl to wear shorts or even leggings.
Instead of policing what women wear and normalizing the sexualization of their bodies, airlines, schools and every public entity should be promoting the comfort of all of their customers, employees and students.
It will never be a comfortable life for anyone with unfair dress codes and ingrained misogyny.