Opinion: Dress code oversexualizes women’s bodies

By: Jenna Clark

The San Marin administration’s enforcement of the dress code sexualizes women’s bodies by restricting what they wear so as not to “distract” other students. The dress code is also very vague, keeping clothing up to interpretation by individual. The dress code needs to be changed and made more clear so students aren’t objectified, but empowered to wear what makes them feel good.

Senior Claudia Sherbert has been “dress coded” (reprimanded for her clothing) multiple times. She has been called out in front of other students by teachers and administrators because of her clothing.

“I thought it was rude and disrespectful to say in front of the class, and I don’t even know what was wrong with my outfit,” Sherbert said. “I got sent to the office and they were actually pretty rude to me. I think it’s not fair that we have such a strict dress code even though it’s not stated what we can and can’t wear. I don’t think there should be a dress code. You should be able to dress how you are comfortable.”

The dress code places a heavy emphasis on the clothing of girls. The most equivocal point of the dress code states nothing that “distracts or keeps students from learning” may be worn. This rule is often used to make girls who are wearing short shorts, low-cut shirts or thin straps change clothes. The dress code says nothing specific about the required length of clothes, but leaves it up to each individual staff member to decide what they think is and isn’t wearable.

This rule that nothing “distracting” may be worn sends the message that girls need to dress a certain way so that boys aren’t distracted. Not only is this sexist and demeaning to girls, it also tells boys that it’s okay for them to sexualize women in that way. The school should not treat girls like this, but support them to wear what makes them feel powerful or comfortable. Girls are already oversexualized enough by students; they don’t need the administration doing this too.

The dress code needs to be clarified and more specific. Students should not be dress coded because a staff member finds their outfit inappropriate. Because there are no specific rules and only vague guidelines, there is no way for students to know what they can and can’t wear. What one person thinks is inappropriate, another could find fashionable.

Students often get in trouble for wearing short shorts and low tops, but that is what stores are selling and what is in style. Fashion changes with each generation, and many faculty don’t understand what new styles are.

Being dress coded is embarrassing and frustrating. It is something no student should have to go through unless their clothing really is rude or putting people in danger. The dress code makes girls feel demeaned for wearing what they want to wear. Girls should not be dress coded for wearing short shorts or a crop top. This clothing is only “distracting” if administration allows it to be, which they currently are by telling students not to wear it. Administration needs to empower female students, not suppress them.

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