Middle-schooler calls out dress codes as sexist
DEAR AMY >> I’m a sixth-grade girl in middle school, and I love your column.
I finally started to become confident, but something that happened a couple of days ago struck me down.
I got dress-coded by my teacher because I wore a shirt that had cutouts on the shoulders.
We can’t wear cropped shirts or shirts with spaghetti straps. This wasn’t any of those things — it was just a no-shoulder shirt.
My teacher pulled me aside and said, “You can’t wear that.’’ I was confused. She then stated all the things she noticed about my outfit, like she had been watching me. I felt so embarrassed and self-conscious.
When I got back to class, I started researching dress codes and realized how sexist they are.
Dress codes only attack girls and sexualize what we wear.
(Teachers break the dress code all the time, too, by the way.)
When I got dresscoded it made me feel like I went to school in the morning to attract boys, and for girls to think I’m hot or something.
It makes kids feel ashamed of their bodies and skin, and it makes them get made fun of.
To protest against this, I want to write a letter to the principal.
I just want to know before I do — am I in the right or should I simply leave the dress code alone because the dress code is doing what it should?
I have never seen a boy get dress coded for wearing so called “inappropriate clothing.”
>> Being called out like this by your teacher was tough for you.
I think that your response is completely appropriate.
Dress codes are designed for a very good reason. The overall intention from a group of adults is to design a way for children to be less distracted by their wardrobes so they can focus on their education.
One good thing dress codes do is to help to take the pressure off of some kids who might not have the resources to dress in trendy styles. The code sets a basic standard for the entire school, and yes — kids should understand and respect the standards their school has set.
Some schools mandate that students wear uniforms. This sidesteps the whole issue of putting school staff in the position of gazing at students and judging their wardrobe choices.
You are correct that these rules are often enforced on girls more than boys, and that sometimes kids who wear their hair in twists or braids (or other ways that are appropriate to their own race or culture) are also unfairly “coded.”
I really respect the fact that you transformed your embarrassment over this into action.
Yes, I agree that you should write a letter to the principal, expressing your thoughts and bringing up the good points you’ve raised.
In my opinion, this is putting your education to very good use. Good for you..