The true sexism behind miniskirts and spandex

JoAnn Edwards

The administrator yelled at my best friend. It was Harley´s birthday and she decided to dress up, so she wore jeans and a new off the shoulder sweater. According to the administrator, off the shoulder sweaters are not allowed in school. Harley got detention and was sent to the locker room to change into an old P.E. t-shirt. 

School dress code specifically states, ¨No clothing that is excessively form-fitting (i.e., spandex). Leggings, yoga pants or bottoms that are form-fitting must have a top garment of fingertip length…Therefore, any items deemed distracting, revealing, overly suggestive or otherwise disruptive will not be permitted.¨ 

I guess Harley´s sweater would have been revealing, and therefore disruptive. But I think the moldy smell of the t-shirt was far more distracting than her shoulders would have been. But who would she have been distracting if she had been permitted to wear the sweater? 

It seems to me that females pay the price for something that is really not our fault. People choose whether or not they are distracted. There have been many instances where I get distracted with just the dust on the floor during particularly boring lectures. After doing some research, I found out that the school dress code is a perfect example of sexism. Sexism by definition is the discrimination or prejudice against women.  

 In a students interview with The Atlantic,  a female student states, “It’s not really the formal dress code by itself that is so discriminatory, it’s the message behind the dress code,” she says,  “My principal constantly says that the main reason for [it] is to create a ‘distraction-free learning zone’ for our male counterparts.”

I am a high school athlete playing both lacrosse and volleyball. I have played volleyball since sixth grade and my parents have gotten used to the far too short and tight uniform spandex. But I will never forget the look of shock that crossed my father’s face when I walked out in my lacrosse uniform.

My lacrosse uniform consisted of two miniskirts and two tank top jerseys, different colors for home and away games. I really didn’t think much of the uniform until game day. My father looked at me and asked what I was doing in a skirt. After I told him it was part of my uniform, he asked what my plan was if I fell over, or slipped in the frequent mud puddles on the field. 

Just to be clear, I have never had a jersey that goes fingertip length or anywhere close to my fingertips. It’s also no secret that dress codes do not allow mini skirts. If dress codes are going to make a policy against spandex and mini skirts, then the policy should not be broken for athletic uniforms. If the school assigns Vegas-style spandex for game day then I don’t think my athletic leggings, or Harley´s sweater, should be an issue in class. As the dress code is right now, the school policy is hypocritical. 

Bailey Talbot, from the Hartford Cormant says, ¨According to the American Civil Liberties Union, dress codes are legal so long as they don’t treat gender identity differently, but the majority of the schools that use these dress codes punish girls more often than boys. ¨ 

A study from WCNC  said, ¨94% of girls have been body shamed and 64% of boys have been body shamed. Being bullied about our bodies is obviously a big issue in teens’ lives. Schools should not draw extra attention to the subject by enforcing a dress code. Some of the policies in the dress code might cause kids to dress in a way that really looks awful and that could contribute to feeling ashamed of oneself. 

So if studies show that more girls than boys are discriminated against by dress codes then these dress codes are not even legal. If girls go to school and feel ashamed about their bodies, are you really creating a distraction-free learning environment? 

Dress codes are sexist, hypocritical, and in some cases illegal. Dress codes should be revised so that both genders are treated fairly, and so that athletic uniforms do not contradict the dress code.