What Do Dress Codes Say About Girls’ Bodies?

a7fbbc987e2b972ddf57c11e6c6244fd“You’re not going out dressed like that!”

“What mother would let her child wear such a short skirt?”

Think about it: How often do we police girls’ bodies? Recent talk of school dress codes reveals that it happens an awful lot, and for some confused reasons.

After a New Jersey middle school banned strapless dresses from a school dance, more schools have been making headlines with various clothing bans and restrictions. Some of these bans focus on attire for dances while others target daily wear such as yoga pants and low-cut tops. All, however, focus only on girls’ clothing, and most of these restrictions are put in place to avoid “distracting” other students (i.e. the boys).

The concern for overly exposed young bodies may be well-intentioned. With society fetishizing girls at younger and younger ages, girls are instructed to self-objectify and see themselves as sexual objects, something to be looked at. A laundry list of problems can come from obsessing over one’s appearance: eating disorders, depression, low self-worth. Who wouldn’t want to spare her daughter from these struggles?

But these dress codes fall short of being legitimately helpful. What we fail to consider when enforcing restrictions on skirt-length and the tightness of pants is the girls themselves—not just their clothes, but their thoughts, emotions, budding sexuality and self-image.

Instead, these restrictions are executed with distracted boys in mind, casting girls as inherent sexual threats needing to be tamed. Dress restrictions in schools contribute to the very problem they aim to solve: the objectification of young girls. When you tell a girl what to wear (or force her to cover up with an oversized T-shirt), you control her body. When you control a girl’s body—even if it is ostensibly for her “own good”—you take away her agency. You tell her that her body is not her own.

When you deem a girl’s dress “inappropriate,” you’re also telling her, “Because your body may distract boys, your body is inappropriate. Cover it up.” You recontextualize her body; she now exists through the male gaze.

Says Soraya Chemaly in The Huffington Post,

What is a girl supposed to think in the morning when she wakes up and tries to decide what to wear to school? They aren’t idiots. The logical conclusion of the “distracting” issue is, “Will I turn someone on if I wear this?” Now who is doing the sexualizing? My daughters would never have thought these things without the help of their school.

Suddenly, offensive hypersexuality isn’t just something a girl sees in music videos or magazines: It’s embodied in her, and her dress-coded school reminds her of that every day.

So what about those distracted young boys? Where do they come in? By barring particular outfits from school, dress codes help boys identify and objectify “inappropriate” girls and women. Girls who violate dress codes are violating rules, and girls who violate rules are bad. Bad girls can be desirable and sexy, but they don’t necessarily deserve respect (even from other girls).

And where respect is absent, objectification is easy. In her guide to self-objectification, Caroline Heldman explains how sexually objectified women are dehumanized and viewed as “less competent and worthy of empathy by both men and women.” Those who are dehumanized may be mistreated and made to feel inadequate. And if poor self-image is linked with objectification, it isn’t hard to see that this cycle feeds itself: Those who are objectified by others are treated as less than human, and in understanding themselves as less than human may self-objectify.

Asking girls to cover up is a Band-Aid solution to far more socially ingrained problems such as general misogyny and rape culture. As long as a girl or woman is always sexualized, it won’t matter how much she covers up—she’ll still be faulted for her inappropriate behavior.

It’s unfair to expect a young girl to understand the full implications of her body—implications put in place by an all-too-often misogynistic society—and punish her for not knowing better. A girl needs empowerment, not more complications in her relationship with her body. Jada Pinkett Smith had the right idea when asked why she would “let” her daughter Willow shave her head:

This is a world where women, girls are constantly reminded that they don’t belong to themselves; that their bodies are not their own, nor their power, or self determination. I made a promise to endow my little girl with the power to always know that her body, spirit, and her mind are her domain. Willow cut her hair because her beauty, her value, her worth is not measured by the length of her hair … even little girls have the right to own themselves.

Photograph credited to Lindsay Kamikawa via SanClemente Patch


  1. I personally think that dressing modestly and covering up can raise your self esteem. Whenever you dress modestly you are respecting yourself.

    • …So when you see a woman dressed in a way you don’t consider modest, do you respect her less? Even though it doesn’t make her any less human? Something to consider. Treat your fellow (wo)man with respect – it shouldn’t matter what they’re wearing.

      • It shouldn’t, but it does. I would have less respect for a person when they aren’t wearing appropriate attire for an occasion. Like it or not, it is offensive if somebody is showing cleavage, or wearing tight or unfitting clothes. Girls who cover up show they respect thier body, and make me want to respect them. The opisite contributes to the apposing side.

        • It shouldn’t, and it doesn’t have to. When you buy into to the “skin=sex” construct, you’re only perpetrating what you just admitted shouldn’t be. Where would we be if, every time we were faced with a less than ethical reality, we decided to buy into it instead of speak and act to deconstruct that injustice?

        • Oh my god get over yourself and stop being so damn judgemental. Tbh if YOU look down on other people for what they wear then you’re the offensive one and as a result I have a hell of a lot less respect for you than I would for a girl in a mini skirt and boob tube (do they still make those?) who doesn’t judge or disrespect others.
          You even admit that “It shouldn’t” then say “But it does” as though it’s an objective fact. It’s not. If you admit that it shouldn’t then you should try to change things – starting with your own shady attitude.
          You might be a nice person but there is nothing nice or good about judging others on their looks.

          • Generic Man says:

            So do I have the right to wear such tight clothing that the outline of my junk is clearly visible for all to see at a school dance? because based on the arguments I have read from 90% of the feminazis that is completely justified and should be, dare I say, encouraged if it boosts my self confidence.

            Bottom Line this article is dumb and makes an argument that permits ridiculous wardrobes for BOTH men and women alike. After all if you can wear whatever you want then I sure as hell can too.

            Not to mention this whole “no one can tell me what to wear” idea that seems consistent with just about every women posting comments is a fallacy as there exist public decency laws in the United States.

            Feel free to keep abstracting ladies and see how insane the conclusions you people come to are.

          • Are You Serious? says:

            First off, they’re feminists, not feminazis. Feminazis are women who are reverse mysoginists.
            Feminists, however, believe in the equality of both sexes.

            Next, Generic Man, nobody is telling you not to wear tight spandex to school dances. If you want to, nobody is holding you back.
            You might get a few weird looks, but is somebody going to accuse you of trying to get attention from women? Shame you because what you’re wearing will instigate rape? Call you a slut because obviously, you only dress to gain attention, not to actually make yourself more confident or feel good?

            This argument is not comparable to men.
            By telling girls that they cannot dress a certain way because “men are unable to control themselves” (I actually find this statement rather sexist to be honest, not all boys can’t control themselves–or need to) you are objectifying them.
            That they have now become something to look at, and if they don’t cover themselves up, they are going to be fucking up some guy’s next test grade.

            Has it not occurred to anyone that maybe the problem is in men’s attitude towards a woman’s body that should be changed?

          • bethany says:

            Not like it even matters what you wear anyway you will still be seen as a sexual object by everything and everyone. I by choice wore belbottom jeans or very loose jeans that showed off nothing with loose fitting shirts that covered and didn’t show anything. And yet I was still objectified by men and women. A guy I thought loved me used me for sex my best friend of 5 years told me he used me for sex and they both treated me awefully after they got what they wanted. I didn’t expect that from either of them. And they did it. And I wore that stuff. Never anything tight. Girls saw me as a whore and often said I looked pregnant and fat. The guy I thought loved me spread rumors that made all my friends not wanna be my friends anymore. And because of that I was bullied called a whore and asked for blowjobs in the hallway by men. Yet I didn’t wear tight fitting cloathing or do anything wrong other then be descieved by my supposed friends. You could wear mini skirts and belly shirts and be called a whore. You could wear what I did and be called a whore. The bottom line is it doesn’t matter eventually someone from either sex will call you a whore. Or you will be thought of as a whore at some point by either sex. This article does a great job of saying you can wear anything and probably nothing bad will happen. Well that’s a complete lie. IT DOESN’T MATTER! You will be seen as it no matter what. And guys won’t, talk about double standard huh? Because I was called pregnant I forced myself not to eat thinking it was the only way to look skinny and being skinny is the only way to make friends. Now I was 120 pounds and 5ft tall and people told me I looked pregnant. It doesn’t give you higher self esteem to dress the way you want. I wanted to dress that way. The people who dressed in tight clothing like skinny jeans and tight low hanging shirts were treated the same way. After I got used I didn’t date anyone for 3 years and I was still called a whore. The people who had never hung out with a boy were called whores. The people who only hung out with boys were whores. Everyone was objectified as a sex object it didn’t matter what you wore or if you got straight A’s you were a whore and treated as such. This article is very stupid if they think wearing or not wearing what ever you want will change that. Even before highschool I was getting bullied for everything from the colour of my eyes to what type of socks I wore. I was bullied for it all. Our dress codes weren’t particularly strict either. The point is it doesn’t matter what you do.

          • Dress codes exist for a reason, boys and girls. Most people that care what they wear are dressing for other people. Period. We was know its a fact. ..,and to be honest if the girls back when I was going to school could get by with wearing what girls get by with wearing today I would have flunked most of m classes. Hell as a teen I could barely *think* my hormone level was so high. If girls had been wearing spandex…. O.m.g. I’d have died for lack of blood to my brain, lol. When I was in college these innocent ‘its just clothes’ girls whom you think are your innocent, nieve daughters, were *actively* hunting down college age guys, and older, to hook up with. Saw it ALL the time and it shocked the hell out of me, being a small country town boy in the big city to go to school. Took me a while to realize this wasnt guys chasing younger girls (not that the letches were trying to chase them off with a stick either…) and not a one off thing. I sat at the apartment complex pool in that college town talking to one of the girls that was seeing a college guy staying near me with the intent of telling her the guy she had avidly chased and caught was a player… I thought the girl was college age herself, clothes, makeup, etc. holy hell. After talking with her for a while it comes out. She was 12. Years. Old. Yep. …i was at a loss for words. Yeah parents, dont worry what your kids wear, just give them a cellphone and cut them loose and think that being able to get in touch with them is parenting skills enough. Some 20 years later I run service calls and see the parents, kids, …and gawd is it worse. Sad really. Parents either treat kids like they’re adults or they just let them run wild and dont pay attention to them at all. Parents that are parents are few and far between these days… It seems to me. Ask most service call guys and gals, the horror stories abound.

        • Why is cleavage offensive? It’s a part of the anatomy. We shouldn’t keep denying this. Let’s just embrace it. Women have breasts. Who cares if they want to show them off?

          • Don’t know how old you are, Kate, but you’re kidding, right?

          • Stephanie says:

            It’s only offensive when it’s inappropriate. Men have penises, it’s part of their anatomy, who cares if they want to show them off?

          • A different perspective says:

            I guess it’s all up to what the person wants for their life. They don’t have to be “modest” so to say… In my opinion, if women want to show a little cleavage, then let them be. You don’t see every single women having a debate with “modest women” on why they don’t show their boobs. Let them be man. So if anyone has anything else to say then, keep debating on something that’s never really going to change in our society. People do what they want to do and the only way they’ll change what they do is if they make the decision.

          • Dude I 110% agree with this! There’s this whole double standard where guys are allowed to do act,say,think, look at,and feel whatever they want. This is the 21st Century people!! If I had the balls to fight for my rights as a woman then I should have the god given right to walk around naked if that’s how I feel comfortable! Please explain to me how it’s fair that guys can swear and wear their pants below their damn knees but I can’t wear a strapless to a dance!? My body is my body! Everyone’s body is their body! Just because men have a problem with the fact that my cleavage line is too low or my skirt rises up too high doesn’t mean that I should be alienated and dehumanized. It’s not my fault that boys can’t keep their raging hormones under control! Im positive if I just started staring at boys crothes they’d get weirded out and I’d get in trouble. But it was reversed it’d be fine because he didn’t touch me. -__- Really people? How about our shitty society tries this? RESPECT EACHOTHERS PERSONAL,PHYSICAL, AND EMOTIONAL BOUNDARIES! God dammit! It’s not that hard! Rant finished.

          • Apples to Oranges says:

            I just wanted to reply to one person in particular: Stephanie. (I don’t know if I could’ve made this a direct reply to you…sorry if I could have.)

            You said: “It’s only offensive when it’s inappropriate. Men have penises, it’s part of their anatomy, who cares if they want to show them off?”

            While I definitely laughed, I wanted to point out why that is an incorrect comparison that is completely invalid and society has totally effed up that viewpoint.

            Boobs DO NOT EQUAL Penises. Boobs have ZERO part in the actual reproduction process. Therefore, Boobs EQUAL Boobs (on men) and Vaginas EQUAL Penises. Okay?

            So, yes. Women should be able to show off their cleavage whenever they feel like it! And men can certainly do the same! (showing of their chests, I mean. Or cleavage…you never know.)

            No. Women cannot show off their vaginas, so no. Men cannot show off their penises.

            End of story.

        • I want to ask you something in hopes that you’ll still keep an open mind to our opinions- WHY is it offensive for women to show their cleavage, or tight fitted clothing? There was one point in our world where women walked around naked- heck, just look in a National Geographic book. But when doing so, you don’t see those women as less respected or inappropriate. Why? Because it’s a different society and time. We see Jennifer Lopez and Beyonce (just to name a few huge celebrities) and they walk around in tight clothing and racy clothing.
          I don’t know exactly where I’m trying to get out, rather I’m speaking from common truth. But the word and implications of “offensive” are interesting to think about.

          • Honestly different woman have different perspectives and if they want to flaunt what they have then nothing is going to stop them besides themselves and women deserve respect period since when did we allow clothing to be the reason we respect or not respect an individual? Since when do biased opinions about women’s clothing allow one or many to decide why women earn or don’t earn respect? Yes it can be a good thing to cover up but to a female who wants to express themselves, hides their freedom of expression and puts a damper on their individuality! Agree to disagree I guess!

          • Breasts are “offensive” because our society has decided that the intended purpose for them has changed from feeding a new born baby to being a sexual object for men to fetishize. I have no idea why it is that society decided that, they’re just lumps of fat that produce milk, but in today’s modern world, they’re considered reproductive organs, despite the fact that they have absolutely nothing to do with reproduction. And it has nothing to do with size, either. Some men have breasts bigger than a lot of women, but since they’re attached to a man they’re not sexualized and hidden.

        • How much a woman wears makes no reflection on her self esteem or self worth. If you don’t like revealing clothing, then don’t wear it. But don’t sit back and tell other women they’re bad or skanky when the do wear revealing clothing.

          • A different perspective says:

            THANK YOU. I totally agree with this.

          • EXACTLY. some people are just hella confident that their bodies are pretty and of course that affects how they dress; it’s not concieted and I don’t think it should be discouraged. In some cultures, socially defined dress codes are exponentially more lenient than in others, and people from other cultures shouldn’t judge them or people who fit into those cultures but happen to be stuck in the drab ones.

          • Amen to that!

          • Have you ever held a job before? If you show up in yoga pants and a low cut top, you’re not getting hired. You don’t take yourself or the interview seriously, and you don’t deserve the job, no matter how qualified.
            Same with dress codes. No, wearing leggings and skimpy tank tops doesn’t really affect your self esteem. It focuses all self worth on looks, on qualities you physically have.
            So in an interview, if someone shows up wearing a pair of slacks, and a well cut shirt, or a skirt and blouse, they get taken seriously and stand a chance.
            If a girls self esteem is fine, then great. If their self worth is apparent, wonderful. Simply stated, a woman cannot dress inappropriately and expect other people to appreciate that a girl has self esteem or self worth. All that will be noticed are physical attributes and that is what a women is reduced to nowadays.

          • Alexis, we’re not talking about job interviews, here. Yes, if someone shows up to a job interview in yoga pants and a tank top, it’s going to reflect badly on them. But we’re talking about every day wear. Something you’d wear outside to be comfortable. There’s a time and a place to wear slacks and a dress shirt, just as there should be a time and a place to wear yoga pants and a tank top, outside of the gym.

          • This.

        • What I really hate is when a man wears a low cut shirt. It’s SO distracting. In my opinion, if I can see your clavical, you need to change your shirt, Sir. Its so innapropriate when I have to look at your hair chest as you lean over the desk to do the math assignment, that’s what turtlenecks are for. And while we are on it, wear pants that cover your underwear/longjohns. I mean as fascinated as I am by knowing you wear underarmor, if I can cover my thong, you can too. But my least favorite thing of all is those blasted baseball pants! So tight, and making a man’s but so nice looking and his package just very appetizing, I can’t focus on the game! And on game day when you wear your baseball uniform in school, how am I supposed to pay attention in class when I’M starring at your croch. YOU need to change so I won’t want to look at you anymore

          • It is the tight trousers around the butt area that is very distracting. How are we expected to think in a logical manner when these males are flaunting themselves. You are right Amanda, these males need to change what they wear and how they wear it because I can’t control my actions or my thoughts.

          • I know your trying to find your inner misandrist sarcasm but I’m there is a difference between booty shorts with a thong on and jeans with boxers poking out. Both aren’t meant for school dress code since they both expose the underwear but one you can actually see the girls butt and in other your basically seeing a pair of shorts sticking out jeans. NOW if he was wearing low cut jeans with a thong on then go right ahead and be distracted ladies cause you will get a huge heap of butt crack in your face oppose to boxers. What men find distracting (since you’re trying to say thats the only reason there are dress codes for women AND MEN is this reason) is tight clothing that shows your whole figure. Im sure if a man came in with a spandex outfit you would be somewhat distracted too. I donno, this article isn’t very good for the feminist cause, yall are grasping for reasons to call out inequality for this one. Pick a subject that actually matters, dressing down and you become sexual objects, dress up and you think you become hermits of your own sexuality and become oppressed….Only way I guess yall win is to go half naked half dressy attire.

          • God forbid you can actually see human anatomy under clothing. If I want to wear yoga pants, why should I have to think twice about a boy seeing my butt under my clothing? I mean I do actually have a butt, it’s how humans are built. A guy could be distracted by a girls legs (covered or otherwise) so what, would we have to then wear a full length skirt so that you can’t see the outline of both legs? No. You’re only enforcing the fact that men can’t control themselves and that women should be ashamed of the very bodies they were born with. The only reason why people have developed these thoughts is because of what society pushes on people. I go back to a comment that said we were all walking around naked (and a lot of cultures still are) it’s society that has placed dress codes to “protect” people. “Because your body may distract boys, your body is inappropriate. Cover it up.” That is exactly what we are telling women, and that is exactly why we have such a huge problem.

        • Lauren S. says:

          As people we are powerful beyond measure and if it is change we want to see, then it is change we will get. Lets just explore here: we judge people based on the types of clothes the wear, the brand names they wear, the way they carry themselves in their clothes, the way do their hair, the way they talk, the way they walk, the way they move, the way they smile, the way they laugh, what race they are, what ethnicity they are, the color of their skin! Haven’t we learned that all these judgements we make never really determine the quality of the person we made them about.
          I would just like to put out into the world that what someone deems appropriate is very subjective. In this predominantly male oriented society women are the center of infamous attention. Respect cannot be based on a first look because it is something someone not only earns but returns. A person of any gender affiliation can feel comfortable and confident covered up, but they can also feel comfortable wearing a short skirt of tight shirt. Who are we to judge how they feel in their clothes? What basis do we have to determine their behavioral patterns and thoughts about themselves because of the materials they have draped across their bodies? The world would be better off if, when it came to matters of the body and how it is displayed, we left decisions up to the individual for it is much to hard to standardize people’s emotions and feelings on the topic.

        • Vienna Enos says:

          As an artist who draws naked bodies on the regular, it’s only sexual if you view it that way. Otherwise, they’re just body parts, parts of a whole person. Just as we should never assume someone fits a racial stereotype by how they look, we shouldn’t assume someone wants to be sexualized by how they dress.

        • deborah says:

          please learn the difference between “it’s offensive” and “it offends me”. The former implies that everyone everywhere finds it offensive. “Showing cleavage” may offend you, but it certainly isnt offensive. Here’s a helpful comic to explain more fully: http://www.smbc-comics.com/?id=2164

        • Brittany says:

          Ok let me just point out that I do dress modestly now as an adult. But I can honestly say that it stems from the fact that as a teenager I explored the tight clothing and was told I was too chunky or that my clothes were trashy. Now as an adult I have a constant fear when selecting clothes that I am not goo enough therefore I only wear jeans and tshirts that fit me just a little loose. Now is this what you want to put girls through who are just trying to discover themselves. Do you want to make them worry everyday about how trashy they may be? I would’ve come around to the modest clothing in my own time and still had confidence in my body had I not been told by a mentor that I looked trashy. You have to let girls blossom into who they are on their own If you force them It will destroy their body image.

        • Why do you say cleavage is offensive? By making statements like that you are just perpetrating the idea that girls and women should be embarrassed by their natural bodies. Yes maybe people do look at your breasts but as a society we should get over it. It’s unfortunate that you have let other people control your image of yourself. Perhaps rather than judging other women you should learn to love your body and not worry so much about what others think of you. Yes it’s true some people do judge the book by the cover but I’ve learned those people aren’t worth knowing.

      • I agree with this. I am also 16 years old (as someone else said) and this reminds me a lot of my own body image problems. As one person said, it sometimes boosts self esteem to cover up. Though this is true sometimes, i think that it should be the person’s choice on what to wear, not to cover up because of any tempations others may have. Being confident has a lot to do with control

      • I respect them still. Never said I didn’t.

        • You are not respecting yourself. You are buying in to the stigma placed on us by the culture in which we have grown up. Other cultures in the world do not have the same viewpoint as america. Would you feel more respectable in a berka?it is a slippery slope. I personally choose who gets to see my body and how much of it I show. Its not respect that is in question. Girls are objectified in our society because we have taught males that is ok and taught females to judge each other by these standards as well.

      • I go to a alternative school, and they allow me to wear whatever i want.. I dress with whatever style i want whenever i want, and i dont let people stop me.

      • I never said I don’t respect them.

      • Well there you go over-sexualizing the female body. Of course you should “dress appropriately for an occasion” but that does not necessarily mean “cover up.” I get so sick of people telling me to pull my shirt up or tell me that they can see my bra strap. I don’t look like a slut, you can just see my cleavage. I’m not trying to show myself off but my breasts are larger and harder to cover. I should not have to wear turtle necks all the time to earn the respect of someone like you.

        • Well lets be honest here, no one really considers showing underwear or bras in public classy…. I mean whens the last time you saw denzel washington walking around in a suit and tie with his boxers hanging out? you dont have to wear turtle necks just cover up the strap. and can i say whyyyyy do women care so much about the right to wear as little clothing as possible in public and then also care about being sexually objectified? You do know it has been shown in scientific studies that women sexually objectify other women? wha wha wahhhh. Also I have read alot of comments with women saying men yell words like slut and whore at them for the way they dress…….that is insane how crazy do you have to dress that random people on the street stop what they are doing to curse you out and slut shame you? Either you’re dressing a little too poorly for the occasion or your surrounded by the united states republican party. Girls take this advice, guys don’t care how skinny you are, they care about if you look good and are a good person, all the stupid makeup wont help if you are a crap person and all the personality in the world probably wont help if you look like a goblin and you’re going after the hottest guy in school (he has options sorry). try and be the best you can be not try and be like a fake magazine cover girl because when it comes down to it beyonce, oprah, hilary clinton , Condelezza rice (how do you spell that?) and all the great women of today didn’t just wake up pretty and successful, they had talent to go with it. Also don’t worry that much about looks unless your life goal is to be a model or trophy wife. Focus on gaining respect.

          • So here’s the thing, man. A guy who doesn’t respect me wearing a bikini, isn’t going to respect me in a turtleneck. He is just going to express that disrespect in a different way. It is not respect if you are only going to show respect to someone if they fit into your narrowly defined box of how they should dress/behave/look. It is control.

            So stop focusing on what women look like, and how they dress, and what kind of makeup they are wearing. Stop calling them sluts and goblins, and learn how to see women as people and treat them as such. Focus on learning respect.

            (On another note, yes women participate in the objectification of women. That’s called internalized sexism. Girls are raised to believe that certain behaviors and attitudes are unacceptable for women and women who behave in such a way are not worthy of respect. Sexism is not just the way some men treat women, it is the institutionalized structure that holds women to different standards than men and values them less based on the fact that they are women. To get rid of this structure, we need to address the way women perpetuate it, as well as men. However, that women have internalized sexism does not make your sexism any less real or more okay.)

          • The aptly and intelligently named “Man” is probably not the best candidate for sympathizing against the objectification of women. The problem is not that women want it both ways (from what I understand of your comment, to dress like a slut but not be considered a slut), it’s that we don’t want our worth as human beings to come down to our clothing, and furthermore, our sexuality.

          • ok, so a man wearing no shirt outside if fine then? i find a set of nice abs to be very distracting. men wearing basketbal shorts can also be distracting because i can usually see the outline of their penies, and i notice it. but those are all totally normal and appropriate? should men have to tape down their dicks because sometimes it shows through their pants?

          • See man, here’s the thing. It shouldn’t matter what clothes you wear. Judging that girl on the bus for wearing a tube top and mini is the exact same thing as in the 50′s when they’d judge that chick on the bus because she was black. 1st of all if you don’t know a single thing about the person who are you to judge whether they’re good or bad? Who are you to say they’re a slut or a saint? This article made a huge point and I commend it for that because our society doesn’t take enough credit for the things it’s putting into future generations heads. What if one day you have a daughter and you find out she doesn’t feel pretty enough because her favorite new yoga pants got her called a whore in school? What do you do? And dont say just leave it because that’s not what any father does with their daughter. You’re job as a parent is to raise a child who has the self confidence of god. Not dirt. And you saying that your clothes and face matter? You’re only helping further the self esteem and confidence of young women everywhere. We are not sexual objects. We are not a trophy for you to gaze over and flatter and show to your buddies. We are human beings. You want women to focus on respect mister misogynist? Give us some and set an example for that buddy of yourself who just slapped that chicks ass in a 7/11. You us to respect ourselves? THEN STOP FUCKING SEXUALIZING ME JUST BECAUSE I HAVE A VAGINA!

          • Brittany says:

            Im sorry but you can be a slut or a whore and dress modestly. I don’t care how old or young your are black, white, or flippin purple. If someone gets the vibe that you are whore you will be classified that way. Our bodys are our own and we should control what we do or don’t do with them and not have to worry about what other people think. Would you like it if society said that it was only ok to have sex with your significant other 2 times a week any more than that and you are a slut? No probably not because its your right to decide when you want to have sex its the same as dressing. I have lived in my body for 24 years and if I wanted to I would walk around showing off whatever I wanted because GOD gave it to ME not YOU!!!!

          • It’s it wonderful when I go out wearing clothes that cover every inch of me and still get whistled at and stared at by men who are as old as my father. Doesn’t matter what you where. They are going to yell disgusting things at you regardless, like they’re doing you a favour.
            I just wish to go out in clothes that make me comfortable, whether it be jeans or a dress, and not feel like the person that yelled out at me through a car window is going to follow me and do god knows what. Preferably I’d rather you all keep your mouth shut because I’m not there to be ogled at and I let them know that too

      • “Whenever you dress modestly you are respecting yourself.”
        Um, a person’s self-respect is THEIR respect for THEMSELVES. I could have sex with a different person every night and still respect myself. If YOU don’t respect them, that’s your little close-minded problem, not theirs. Females shouldn’t have to sacrifice the freedom to dress in the clothes we choose to wear purely because some people don’t like it. I personally find guys walking around with their boxers hanging out unappealing, but I don’t tell them that they can’t wear what they want.

        • You act as if its only women who have to adhere to the pretty loose dress codes of most schools. i’m pretty sure men have them too, why do we have to limit mens freedom of dress?! WHY CANT WE WALK AROUND SHIRTLESS IN THE HALLS, WHY CANT OUR BOXERS BE OUT IN PUBLIC? WE CAN DO IT AT THE BEACH! WHY NOT IN SCHOOL! WHY CAN WE NOT WEAR MAKEUP IN CLASS WHY CAN WE NOT BE CONSIDERED AS PEOPLE WHO AREN’T TRYING TO OPPRESS YOU? please come on, this article is crap from both sides, neither men nor women are being oppressed by the modern dress code cause it gives you the freedom to almost dress naked.

          • okay one, we get it, you’re fired up about this. no need for a caps rage, we’re all friends here.
            two, the article is stating that dress codes are getting stricter for girls not boys and that’s the issue.
            three, girls cant walk around shirtless either, equality, am i right?
            four, boys can wear makeup, it’s totally fine
            lastly the point is that young girls are being made into sexual objects. schools are making it so that boys believe younger and younger that certain parts of a woman’s body should be sexualized.

    • I agree that sometimes dressing modestly can preserve a girls’ innocence, however, a woman who dresses provocatively is still respecting herself.

      If a woman goes for a walk in short-shorts and a tube top, she may respect herself equally or even more than a woman in a burqa. You can not equate someone self-worth by their appearance, and by doing so, it’s showing women that we’re only as good as others perceive us to be.

      It could be argued that if a girl were to go against the dress code, she respects herself MORE than the girls who conform, because it’s the girls who follow what society tells them is shameful or inappropriate that don’t have enough respect for themselves to be anything other than the paper cut-out model created by teachers, parents, friends, and media.

      Respect is defined by “a feeling of deep admiration for someone or something elicited by their abilities, qualities, or achievements.” How a woman dresses does not define her abilities, qualities, or achievements, so regardless of how a girl dresses, she is still respecting herself.
      The only disrespectful way for a girl to dress is by only dressing herself in a way that others feel is right.

      To love oneself is not a crime, and to tell these young girls that their own skin is inappropriate and should be covered up is only going to contribute to the amount of women who come to hate themselves because they’ll never be good enough, or their skirt’s too short, or their belly button is showing.

      I think young girls should be dressed modestly, but not because dressing otherwise is shameful, but simply because they’re little girls and should dress accordingly.

      On the other hand, though, teenage girls and women should not be shamed for how their body looks in an outfit.

      What schools should be teaching children – boys included – is to respect one another regardless of physical characteristics. And if clothing must be discussed in schools, then teach children to dress for their body types, or to accentuate their best features with different styles or patterns.

      Youth should be taught to embellish the beauty they have, so when they’re adults they’re not constantly destroying everyone around them who isn’t the same.

      • Jefferson says:

        Thousands of years ago man dressed in in a loincloth, if anything. Then, when they became more and more refined, they became more and more covered. The higher up they were, the more clothes they could afford, and the more prestige they could express. Poor class in Victorian times: loose shirt and pants/skirt. Rich Class: Undershirt, White Shirt, Vest, Tie, Pants, Fancy socks, overcoat, etc… Over that time, people became naturally attracted to those with more clothing because it was a quick signal of wealth. Contrasting, vagrants and prostitutes wore dirty, ill-fitting clothing and little clothing.

        Its nice to think with the philosophy “It doesn’t matter what you look like on the outside, its the inside that counts.” If that’s the case, should the president wear sneakers and jeans, with his untucked shirt when he addresses the people. Do you want your neighbor to come to your house warming party dressed in his stained white tank top and boxers? Thats how he dresses normally, so its ok, right? Do you want to go to the mall and see security in PJ’s?

        Outward appearance definitely matters. Sorry to burst your bubble, but nice clothes command respect, at least at an impressionable level. Are yoga pants attractive? Sure! But not the way attractive should be. Attractive should be ” look at how lovely i carry myself and care about looks” not “look at me booty!” as she trots up the stairs and I look at the railing so people don’t think I’m a raging perv.

        Embellish their beauty? Great, all for it. With make up. And a smartly chosen skirt, one that passes the knees with a spring print. Perhaps a white button up and a matching cardigan. Not bloody sheer tanks with daisy dukes. Also, I find your comment about dressing to body types incredibly short sighted and offensive. Double D’s? Lowcut v-neck. Big Butt? Booty shorts. Boyish? Frilly, cuteness. Overweight? Wear a bag. That was my first reaction.


        PS: Clothing is a part of someone’s qualities, its how they express themselves outwardly. Just thought I’d debunk that before I left.

        • So, I’m gonna take a wild guess and say you’re one of those guys with the inability to control yourself. Newsflash! I’m a lesbian and I don’t have to “stare at the rail so I don’t get called a raging perv.” I’m also a young woman with a body that gets sexualized and objectified a LOT. You know what I do when I see a girl in yoga pants and a thin tank top? I look in her eyes and smile. Because her body is not there for me to sexualize, her body is not there for my pleasure. What you, my dear boy, need to understand, is that my body, nor anyone else’s body should be dictated because they are “distracting to the other gender” so quit with your bullshit holier than thou crap. You’re no better than the rapist that says the girls clothes provoked him, or the jury that rules in his favor. Please keep your misogynic, rape-culture perpetrating, sexist comments to yourself.

          • ^^This comment wins

          • Rheanna, just because Jefferson is a guy and is openly expressing his opinion doesn’t automatically make him “one of those guys with the inability to control” himself or “no better than the rapist..” yada yada. Not all men are bad people, and not all women are good people. Women can be rapists too and can have an inability to control themselves. He looks away because he’s trying to respect the womans’ privacy and focus on things that are important (or at least more important than some random girl in yoga pants) to him. Just putting that out there.

          • I’m not saying you’re wrong, but this kind of provocative response is exactly the reason that many reasonable males who are trying to gain an understanding of the complexities within this issue are pushed away. The only reason I bring it up is that I always see this kind of comment in these kinds of threads. I have almost never seen someone react positively to such aggressive responses, it’s better to respond in a less passive aggressive manner. Again, I agree with what you’re saying but if you want to get your point across to people you should learn to compose your arguments to be less condescending and aggressive.

          • “You’re no better than the rapist that says the girls clothes provoked him, or the jury that rules in his favor. ”
            Though Jefferson’s comments were way over the top, and his fashion sense is most definitely antiquated (the only time I’ve worn the clothes he suggested was to a theme party), this is just unacceptable. Equating complaints about someone’s fashion choices to rape is incredibly offensive, and trivializes the heinous crime that rape is in reality. I agree with your points, but I find it difficult to support you when you are unable to avoid resorting to immature attacks.

          • What Julia said =)

          • Thank you Rheanna. This was exactly on point.

            And Sam, please don’t tone-police. Women deal everyday with being sexually harassed, taken less seriously based on the gender, having oppressive laws passed about our bodies, having our experienced denied and trivialized, as well as the reality that 1 in 4 women will experience rape or attempted rape by the time that they are college-age, so we have the right to be angry, and express that anger without being told that we are being too aggressive and pushing men away. Jefferson’s comment was sexist, not to mention incredibly classist, so anger is a perfectly acceptable response. In fact, a lot of the comments by men on this article have been sexist, and it is not our responsibility to be patient and understanding in our response to sexism.

            If you are actually open to having a conversation about sexism, and that is reflected in your comments, then you will find a lot more women willing to be civil, but don’t expect us to smile and act nice when some dude shows up mansplaining about our experiences.

          • Are you kidding me that you switch all the ways to the cannot control behavior and accuse him of having a rapist view? That is what society has come to. I am also a guy. Does that mean that I cannot control myself?

            When the whole article is talking about clothing and appearance don’t you think it has to deal with judgement of people, specifically preconceived ones? So why do you go on and make one that is putting down other people. This is really disheartening that a simple point that a guy makes made this person feel that she must out-lash and pull out the ‘rape’ card. It is liking say well I am black so you can’t say that. JUST because he is a male it does not mean that he is a bad person. Just because anatomy states that he is male and that statistics state that men have a higher chance of being rapists does not mean he is one. Get your head out of your arse and look at the world. It is changing, people are becoming less of bigots and do not judge on the spot as much. I mean this article is talking about how the clothing that people are taught to wear causes judgments of other women later in life. If that is the point of the article why are you making judgments about someone who wrote a few sentences? [Granted I am doing the same but I am trying not to attack personally or classify someone as performing a certain behavior based on simple sentences that they typed.]

            I could be like you and say something along the lines of ‘you seem to have a lot of harsh feeling against men. If that is because of something that happened to you in your life I am sorry, but that does not mean that you have the right to judge others on the internet.’ But I don’t want to be mean like that. I just want to have an intellectual conversation. That point was to show what you did to that person.

            ALSO from Katie “as well as the reality that 1 in 4 women will experience rape or attempted rape by the time that they are college-age, so we have the right to be angry” YOU DO NOT HAVE THE RIGHT. YOU HAVE THE WISH TO BE, THE RIGHT TO VOICE IT, but not the right to be angry no matter what. also heard of domestic violence? Notice that all of the ads are based on women being abused because of statistics? Think about that statement. BECAUSE OF STATISTICS. If you base anything on statistics it is a recipe for disaster. It causes people to not think and just do something because they either want to live up to it or against it. You are living up to the statistic of STICK UP FOR YOURSELF ALWAYS. This is a good idea but it gets taken too far and then that becomes domestic violence. THINK BEFORE YOU ACT always. This goes for both genders.

            Anger is not a god given right. It is a feeling, it is something that you express and there are proper and in-proper ways to express it.

            I have a very strong feeling that a lot of what was said from people here would not be said in person because they do not have the privacy of a computer monitor that allows them to bully with no consequences. Please for the love of god think before you post. One day posts will come back to haunt you.

          • RJ Clarke says:

            “You’re no better than the rapist that says the girls clothes provoked him, or the jury that rules in his favor. Please keep your misogynic, rape-culture perpetrating, sexist comments to yourself.” – Rheanna

            Wow. Pretty aggressive words toward a guy that chose to go out of his way to advert his eyes, so society doesn’t think he’s a pervert. A noble, every day gesture for some men. Why? Because that’s what us nice, polite gentlemen have to do. We have to avoid the stigma of being a pervert/rapist everywhere we go. ‘Newsflash!’ YOU are perpetuating the rape culture, by assuming all men are overly sexualized simply because we’re men.

            For example…Can a man be left alone with children without people assuming the worst? No. Are you going to pick a high school boy to babysit your child? No. Can an old man talk to a younger girl without being judged as creepy or dirty? No. Male at a playground? Pervert. Male anywhere around children? Pervert. Why? Simply because we’re men. Try being a nice upstanding man your entire life, while having people subtly assume you’re a rapist. But that’s ok…because, better safe than sorry, right? Because you can’t trust men? And you never know when one just might not be able to control himself and decide to force his sexuality onto something?

            Don’t you think that affects the way us men think? The way we view ourselves? Always being told we can’t be trusted, or that we’re disgusting pigs, or that we’re men, so all we think about all the time is sex? Don’t you think you should stop drilling those thoughts into the minds of every man, young or old, that you come in contact with? Heck, stop drilling that into the minds of women too. Because it’s just perpetuating the rape culture. Maybe start treating men like human beings, with thoughts and feelings, instead of sexualizing us. (Weird. That word works both ways…It’s obviously a different kind of sexualization…not making men into objects, like female sexualization…but rather, assuming we’re overly sexual, and drawing false conclusions based on those assumptions).

            To Katie/Rheanna – both of your comments were sexist. Do I HAVE to act responsibly with my response? No, by no means…I could be outraged by the way I get treated as a man simply because I’m a man. But I CHOOSE to be a responsible person. Because hatred and negativity doesn’t heal wounds, it creates new ones. So feel free to tell me all the lame bullshit you want like… “You can handle it because you’re a guy”, “You deserve it after all women have been through”, “Men don’t have as intense emotional struggles as women”, “It’s just statistical”, “Better safe than sorry”, “It’s not dangerous for men”….whatever. Those are all excuses to justify the inequality.

            My challenge to you both? (and other women out there that struggle with this) Start doing YOUR part as women to stop the rape culture. You want to be real, and see people for who they are, and not make shallow judgements? Then never generalize about guys being overly sexual. Every man is different. No more derogatory terms, like calling men “misogynic pigs”, or saying we’re all sex craved maniacs…. and stop looking at EVERY male that way, no matter his age, how he dresses, no matter what he’s doing walking the street alone at 3am, or if he drank too much (weird how these are all the things women want to be able to do without judgement as well…). Then maybe once your negative, rapey thoughts about men are done being projected on innocent men, we can be less mentally influenced to live up to this “sex craved maniac” standard you’re setting for us (you know…akin to all the problems women unnaturally develop because of the weird standards set for them by the world?).

            TL;DR? Rape is real. Saying men are the problem because they’re disgusting and need to learn to control themselves, is wrong and degrading. Nobody likes being told they’re something they’re not, especially when it’s as heinous as being called a rapist, or a child molester, or even just hyper sexual. If you’re fighting for true equality here, then start with treating men as you would any other woman.

            We are fighting for equality right?

      • I love this!

      • Darneisha says:

        RIGHT ON! Your point was very well phrased, and it made the most sense of anything I’ve ever seen. I will be sharing this. =]

      • woman arent supposed to show too much leg, stomach, breasts, back, or shoulders or else theyd be considered dirty, disgusting, slutty ect…. men have to go as far as showing bare ass or penis to be considered that.

    • I think this article made a dress code shouldn’t be about boys, it should be about girls. There are so many images in the media of objectifying women and showing way too much skin. We don’t do this to guys, so why do we do it to girls? We should show girls that modesty is about really valuing yourself, about giving yourself the respect you deserve. All the while, you can still be attractive and beautiful and put your efforts toward beautifiying yourself from the inside.

    • I have a great body. I never flaunt it because i just happen to like oversized, linen pants a hoodies. I could show off my body…that is to attract men and women. But for some reason, I get off on attracting people with my mind. I hope my daughters feel that way too, that is…putting their mind before others. Anyhow, I dont care how they dress, just as long as it makes ‘em comfortable…

    • Why is it that in the amazon there are tribes where woman are still topless but the men dont feel that sexual desire to have sex with them just because they see boobs. Cut off your time on the internet you use for porn, because lets face it people who watch porn are more likely to be aroused by simple things like clothing.

      • Melyssa says:

        I would just like to point out that the Amazons were incredibly vicious women. They held males hostage and used them to get pregnant, killed them once they were finished and then killed all the male babies. Also, they usually cut off their left breasts in order to shoot a bow better, just a little factoid. So…I understand the point you’re making, but know that you’re very much uninformed about the Amazon culture.

    • A different perspective says:

      I get that dressing modestly is considered “respecting yourself.” But, that doesn’t mean that dressing immodestly isn’t respecting yourself either. People can be completely immodest and have high morals and values just as a person who dresses modestly has. Just a thought.

    • Rebecca Bender says:

      I think it is ok to put some restrictions on what girls are aloud to wear. The bible tells women to dress modestly.

      • The bible also bans shaving, football, wearing cotton/polyester blends, and associating with women on their periods, not to mention eating pork, shellfish, and doesn’t have an issue with a man handing over his daughters to an angry mob to be raped, so I’m going to say, let’s take a step back and not unquestioningly use a thousand year old document to decide public policy.

    • dressing moderately doesn’t mean respect. respecting yourself has nothing to do with how you dress although you are entitled to your opinion and that’s great. Not everyone follows the bible and if you believe in God, cool, but not everyone does and that should not reflect all standards. How someone loves the Christian God or how they love themselves are not the same things.

    • I think it is important to keep in mind the reason behind girls and women dressing provocatively. Are they dressing for themselves, for their own sake? Or are they dressing in such a way to attract, or even to avoid, the attention of men?

      I don’t think the article, by any means, suggests that young girls should dress more provocatively. I think it is saying that these restrictions that are put on girls, and only girls, is an early beginning to harmful cycle of objectification of women. It perpetuates the idea that our bodies and how we dress should be for the sake of men—whether that means to dress more modestly so as to not “distract” men or to dress provocatively in order to get attention from men.

      I think the point is that if young girls were encouraged to respect themselves and their bodies, then people wouldn’t put restrictions on girls solely because of how men are distracted by their own sexualization of women. It encourages the idea that a woman’s body, or even her very own existence, is for the sake of men, and not for her own sake. And that is wrong no matter how you dress.

    • “self-respect is a weird word because you’d think it means “having respect for yourself” but it’s mostly used in terms of whether or not a person is acting in a way that makes them respectable to everybody but themselves.”

  2. I am 16, and I agree with everything this article says. I personally do not wear yoga pants or skirts, but one time I had to wear a dress for a class presentation, and my teacher called me out and said it was not appropriate. It was a red dress down to the knees. Want to know the problem? The sleeves were not “sleeves” they were too short to be counted as such, and so I could not wear it. The dress even covered the neck. I cried, I didn’t know why I cried, but maybe it was because all morning the younger female teachers and the students were telling me I looked nice and pretty today, while this older teacher acted as if I should be standing on a corner. Thankfully they changed the rule this year, but most of the other girls are abusing it.

  3. I find the argument that school dress codes objectify women completely baffling. Since the beginning of time boys have looked at girls’ bodies with hope and longing. Girls have always looked at boys’ bodies, too–but fashion has never helped girls as much as it has helped boys. And fashions now are particularly skimpy and/or form fitting. Yoga pants, for example, are tight, as tight as any pant can be. I’m pretty sure if these pants became fashionable for men, that school dress codes would also forbid boys to wear them. Just think–that bulge in the front, it would be hard not to stare at it. But the fact is, girls have more to show than boys do. You really think girls should have the freedom to wear T-shirts that reveal half their boobs and shorts cut so high that you can see their butt checks? Would you say the same about work clothes? Many jobs require a certain code of dress. What job, outside of maybe a bar or a cheap clothing store would welcome women to wear said Tee and shorts? Sure, girls should be free to express themselves in how they dress. But they will have to learn, in not in school than on the job, that there’s no such thing as one way to dress.

    • Nick Borkowski says:

      I would like to start out by saying that I am in complete agreement with you that the modern fashion industry is not innocent of promoting sexual objectification. Girls are constantly bombarded with impossible standards of beauty. But when a young girl walks into a place of learning, shouldn’t we be focusing on their minds instead of their bodies? Do women really have more to show than men? I would argue that that idea stems from the time when women could only wear floor length dresses. Women have fought throughout history to be free to where what they choose. When have men had to worry about what they show? Everyone has a body under their clothes. The ultimate goal here in a place of learning should be to encourage girls to be comfortable in there own skin. Instead of punishment, we should promote discussion about this issues and the importance of dressing for yourself. I would challenge you to think about why you consider the dress code you described to only be worthy of a bar or a cheap clothing store. If a girl chooses to express themselves at school in a similar way, is their value as a person then not worthy of a more respected career? Thank you for reading my thoughts. I hope you have an incredible rest of your day.

    • “But the fact is, girls have more to show than boys do. You really think girls should have the freedom to wear T-shirts that reveal half their boobs and shorts cut so high that you can see their butt checks?”

      Do boys not have nipples (that, btw, they’re mostly free to show)? Do boys not have butts?
      Girls don’t have “more to show”. Their parts have just been sexualised so much more than boys’ parts have that the mere hint of cleavage on a young girl makes the alarms go off. Double-standard if I ever saw one.

      • Jefferson says:

        Do girls get incredibly turned on when they see a man’s nipples? If so, I’ve missed something. As a matter of fact, most girls I’ve talked to dislike seeing a topless dude. I would not here any objection from a male peer at my school if he got the chance to see a girl topless. Double standard? Yes. Is it unfounded? Definitely not.

        • Most girls dislike a topless male? I have a hard time believing this. When a girl sees an attractive male, of course she wouldn’t mind seeing him topless. The real issue is that women are far less willing to admit that they view men in this way. For a man to objectify a woman is “natural” and even celebrated. However, if a woman were to look at a topless male and comment on his physique she wouldn’t be patted on the back by her peers, she would be deemed a slut.

      • a. Men do not show off these parts where it is not appropriate.
        b. If a man walks around toppless at any place where it is inappropriate to not wear a shirt, he will be highly discouraged by his male peers (if he looks good, he is a do*chebag- if not, he is gross) and told to put his damn shirt back on.
        c. The men’s clothing industry rarely ever makes shorts short enough to see cheeks. Nor has does it rarely ever make really low cut shirts.
        d. Female body parts have been sexualized because they are indicators of fertility. It is no wonder that our society sexualizes these parts as well. And you know what? That’s okay. It is not a crime to have something sexualized, nor is it harmful. “Oh, but it is!” you will most definitely say! No, it is not. What causes harm is when someone can’t control their emotional reactions to how society is. By living here, you consent to the social contract theory; therefore, you are agreeing to live in a society where something is sexualized and should be covered up to be respectable. Do you know how to escape that? By moving to a different society or breaking off from society all together.

        • So can you tell that to the schools?
          And even if it’s weird guys do have more freedom to show these things.
          Also sometimes sexualizing parts of the body (as the emphasis on dress codes can do) is bad because it puts pressure on the girl to look a certain way because often people say that girls don’t look good unless they flatter themselves, flatter the sexualized parts of their body that others want to notice to deem that you are girl enough.
          I think people need to stop thinking if that girl is dressed appropriately or is that boy dressed appropriately but is that person. And appropriately is not even the right word it’s more like how they want. Let it be an expression if that is how they see it or just something to put on in the morning. Everyone wants to look good but has a different definition of looking good so stop JUDGING.

        • Another option (as opposed to Wyatt’s suggestion – “off to the boonies with you if you disagree with the status quo!)” is trying to change the society we live in. Qualifying the responses you’ve received on here as “emotional” also – is based on sexist assumptions you are making. I don’t see anyone ranting here.

          Sexualization of women’s bodies is a learned behavior, not a biological reality. Women (not just men) have strong sex desires too – they are, unfortunately, repressed. I’ve linked a few articles about sexual behavior in monkeys that might be an interesting read if you disagree.


    • Thank you! I agree 100%

  4. Thisis stupid says:

    this is stupid. I’m a girl and I think it’s just common courtesy to dress appropriately. I, as a female, get distracted by other girls who don’t do so. SO IT’S NOT ALL ABOUT THE BOYS. I have never thought about these things when I was looking for things to wear in school. this is way too fucking over thought

    • You know why it’s considered distracting? Because the female body has been sexualized throughout history. Let’s look at cleavage, shall we? That one gets me the most–that and the butt. The female breasts have one primary evolutionary function: to produce milk to nourish offspring. Why on earth was this taboo’d so much? Perhaps it began because larger breasts meant a healthier mating partner, or something to that effect. Then society became hypersensitive to anything deemed relatively sexual and lo and behold–any cleavage is shown, society beats you down, peers see, and learn that showing cleavage is bad.

      Boys also have nipples, has had been pointed out. In fetal development, the nipples develop before the genitals or anything determining sex, so they stick around regardless of gender. Difference–it’s totally fine for guys to walk around without their shirts on, maybe not at school, but generally it’s fine. Might someone get turned on or uncomfortable by seeing a shirtless male? Maybe, but not nearly as much as they would seeing a shirtless girl. That’s too taboo, too off limits to not cause discomfort or excitement to many, even most.

      People tend to focus was on the males partially because they were largely the ones who shaped society to think this way, as women didn’t really have the rights to decide what was and was not socially acceptable. The point of the article was that we SHOULDN’T be thinking this way; regardless of your thoughts when you pick out your school clothes, many other girls are very sensitive to what these rules are saying about them and how restrictive they are compared to the rules their male peers face. In a way, this was less a simple opinion article on school dress codes and more a social commentary about how this “help” and “protection” is really just promoting these unequal ideals in Western society.

      I’ll leave you with a question, a bit of speculation: would you feel so uncomfortable about girls who don’t dress according to your definition of “appropriate” if what might be considered more “skimpy” clothing was actually the norm?

  5. I disagree with this article. It says that when we tell a girl what to wear we are taking control of her body and that her body is not hers. I think it’s the opposite. Her body is hers and she should not share it with everyone.

    Let’s remember the age group we are taking about. High school I’d not a mature age. Everyone is growing up, learning about their bodies and just about everything they do is to impress their friends. They especially want someone of the opposite gender to notice them. They dress to look good for the people they want to impress.

    The parents should be putting limits on them too, but I have a feeling people would be it are offended over that too.

    • Thinkaboutit says:

      When you tell someone what to do and they have no choice but to comply, especially coming from a person in a position of power, it always means you are taking control, period. Good that you mentioned that we keep in mind the developmental stage of who we are talking about: Adolescents who are forming their own values and worldview that they will carry with them to adulthood, which is influenced by family, friends, society, and teachers, etc. The thought patterns they develop during this time will become standard courses of thought unless otherwise challenged in an intentional manner.

      In addition to having said that, why focus only on girls? This will not only teach girls to live according to someone else’s standards but also send the message to boys that they are less responsible for themselve and their actions, as they are left out of the conversation and all responsibility for boys’ actions (sexual assault, being ‘distracted,’ not respecting women as adults) is shifted to girls and women (‘you shouldn’t have worn that,’ ‘you drank too much,’ ‘why were you walking alone?’). That is a lot of pressure, especially when girls and women are being held to subjective and unrealistic standards, usually set by men in power.

      I also feel compelled to challenge your high degree of generalizing in your comment. By saying that ‘just about’ everything a person within a particular age range does is to impress someone else, all other realities are denied. What about the folks who don’t fit this sweeping generalization–the strong and confident young woman, the virtuous jock, or those who seem to live only to develop musical abilities because it is the only thing that makes them come alive? They are left on the margins, labelled as weird or outcast and inpgnored, or worse, bullied.

      And we wonder why kids get distracted, struggle academically, or simply don’t want to go to school?

    • Women have fought for numerous rights over many generations, one of them being able to wear whatever they want. I’m a girl, and I constantly get bullied to cover up during the summer time because to some people a bikini is inappropriate, as to where I see it, I’m proud of the work I put in (going to the gym, eating healthy) to look the way I do. I’m tired of hearing complaints about how girls should be more modest during the summer time when men and boys are allowed to walk around with a speedo on and not get anything but an odd look, and you know, personally, if a man wants to show off what he’s got then I say “Go for it!”, but when a double standard is held, and I’m told to cover up what I’ve worked hard for and what I’m proud of, it’s completely unreasonable and it really angers me.
      I may be old fashioned but shouldn’t that be the overall goal? Reenforcing that a woman’s body is beautiful and you should be proud of it?!

  6. WhileI agree with the message in this article, I also believe that some clothing choices do sexualise young women at too young an age. Low-cut tops in middle school for example I believe to be an extremely reasonable restriction. I feel this article misses an essential factor-the way some young women and girls dress (low-cut, excessively short or tight) is in fact because society has already made her believe her self-worth lies in how attractive she is to the opposite sex.I believe that dress codes that encourage more modest dress have inherent value in simply implying that ‘sexy’ clothes are not the be-all, end-all. Do schools tend to take it too far and hurt more than help in their take on the subject? Absolutely. But I think instead of saying ‘dress codes are inherently negative or inherently positive’ we need to re-examine how we approach the subject. The notion of ‘distraction’ is the wrong way to go about talking about these young women’s bodies. A more body-positive approach is in order. A young girl should definitely know and feel her choices are her own to make, and her body belongs to her and her alone. But let’s not demonise the notion of dress codes altogether as an absolute.

  7. Angelica James says:

    I am a 20 yr old sophomore in college and went to a private Catholic school with a uniform. We were to wear black, tan or blue slacks, a specific button down shirt and a black or blue blazer. Our shoes were to be 2-4 inches in heel height and closed toe blue or black. Skirts were to be below the knee and blue or black. See a theme?? Blue or black. This made the over all look of the student body dark and “professional”. At 13-18 very few young teens regardless of age feel and overwhelming need to look professional. This led to a great deal of rule breaking. The shirts we were instructed to purchase were thin oxford material that buttoned to the collar. Boys and girls were issued the same shirt. Though it was advertised as a mens or womens shirt each was cut the same. Girls must button theirs to the top except the collar button. That could be undone. Boys were required to wear a tie and button that collar button. Every girl I knew including myself left the collar and top two buttons undone. This would leave the top of the shirt just open enough to show a necklace pendant but cleavage was still hidden far far away. The slacks were to be loose and students were sent home for tight pants or short skirts.
    This being said my college does not have a dress code and the difference is shocking!!!! When I graduated high school I figured out I had no casual clothing and really no fashion sense. I knew of ONE professional outfit. A suit. Women now a days rarely have a single suit they wear to the office everyday. But thats what I was taught! One suit. All set. This is riduculous and sent me into a world of revolutionary fashion and no guide to its secrets!!! I only knew to cover my body and to almost be embarrassed about it!! Girls should never be taught to hide their bodies. Or be ashamed of what they look like!!!! Girls should be taught how some clothes makes them appear to others. As should boys!!! Sagging jeans amd exposed boxers are also inappropriate but not regulations restricted this in the uniform. Teens should be educated informed and allowed to dress themselves acourdingly. The treatment they get from each other and their elders will also guide their dressing. Restriction is not a solution. Its a bandaid that will be torn off without ever addressing the real problem.

  8. I also attended a Catholic high school that had a uniform, and, as annoying as the rules were sometimes, I loved having a uniform. If our kilts were too short, we were asked to unroll them, but that only happened when you could literally see someone’s bottom showing. That being said, the males were also asked to fix their uniforms… maybe even more so than the females. I do understand where this article is coming from, and I agree with the psychological part of it, but uniforms made high school so much easier on all of us. We could never tell who had more money or who had less, because we were all wearing the same articles of clothing (in Canada, Catholic schools are not necessarily private [mine wasn't], so you can’t assume that everyone had money to spend on expensive clothing). It also made getting ready for school so much easier, as we didn’t have to contemplate what we were going to wear that day for more than a minute. I understand that all people think differently, but I don’t remember once questioning myself if what I was wearing would turn somebody on when we had our dress down days. I can’t claim that this article is wrong by any means, because I totally agree that society has a negative perception of the female body, but our uniforms were a sense of comfort… they removed the pressure to dress in a way that made us uncomfortable, and allowed us to choose our friends based on who they were, not what they wore.

  9. I’m a 16 year old girl. Dressing modestly doesn’t make me feel more confident ever. Actually, it makes me feel like everyone is judging me, even if they’re probably not. When I dress in something that makes ME feel good, whether it be a tank top or a short skirt, no one else’s opinion matters to me…that is until someone comments on it, declaring it inappropriate.

  10. Not Midwestern Anymore says:

    I’m 61. When i was young I dressed modestly, though in college I didn’t wear a bra. I did cover up when off campus. It’s like this: when a woman shows skin, she gets uninvited attention from men. You’re comfortable with it, or you’re not. If you don’t want attention, then you cover up. If you don’t mind, or enjoy attention, show what you’ve got. I was traveling alone in Istanbul. When I wore a sleeveless dress that went past my knees, I got lots of attention from men, and older gentlemen. When I covered my arms and legs, I got no attention. That’s my experience. As a middle-aged woman it’s still true. I don’t show skin so much, but do wear form fitting clothes and now, enjoy the little bit of added attention I sometimes get.

  11. I see your argument, and I agree with what you are saying. It’s well thought out, for sure. But you only take into account one piece of the whole system. I understand this is focused on girls, but you make it sound as if there are no dress codes restricting boys. When I went to a (middle) school that enforced a dress code, boys were not allowed to wear saggy pants, baggy pants, oversized t-shirts, or tank-tops that had large sleeve-holes; they were also bound to the same dress codes as women–no low cut shirts that exposed nipples, no short shorts, and no skinny straps/strapless attire (of course, this seldom applied to boys clothing).

    But now I want to address why these dress codes make sense. However, I should first state that I was never a proponent of dress codes, and I went to a high school that didn’t have one, and there were never any issues there. There are obvious differences in male and female anatomy. These differences are often, either psychologically or physically, sexual in nature. During puberty, when tweens develop their sexuality, females develop breasts, and their hips begin to widen. There are not many noticeable physical changes in males. Their testicles drop, and they grow body hair, but the male sexual organ is conveniently always covered by clothing, and it’s not “busty” or apparent such as breasts and butts.

    Secondly, the male sex drive is typically stronger than the female’s, especially during the early years of puberty. The stereotype that men are always “horny dogs” is not necessarily incorrect. Not to say that men can’t control themselves, but the hormone that controls arousal and desire (LH) is high and present constantly in young males, and is pulsated during ovulation in females. This results in men, typically, having higher libido than women. So it makes sense than an attractive girl showing off her body would legitimately distract her male peers, while an equally attractive boy showing off his body might not prove to be that arousing, or distracting to many females. If you want an example consider this: a picture of a woman in underwear, or a bathing suit, or less, would most likely turn on most boys; but a picture of a boy in boxers, or swim trunks, or a “dick-pic” would probably not get most girls hot and bothered. The fact that the male body is not as arousing as the female body is part of psychology, not sexualization. Men are sexualized on their muscles, not so much their penis.

    Now I’m just rambling. All-in-all, your argument makes sense, and I don’t doubt that these codes that restrict personal expression are harmful for young people. However, there’s more to it than just the oppression of women, I’m sure that is not the intention at all.

  12. I’m 17 and when I am told that I need to cover up or change from an outfit that I personally feel is appropriate for my body, it’s just that person forcing their opinions and personal standards on me. It also tells that this person is only looking at me as a sex object that is sinful and bad. They don’t see me as the individual I am and they certainly don’t respect me.

    • Wonderful says:

      It doesn’t always mean they are looking at you as a sex object, it simply means by dressing down in scad clothing maybe you are inherently sending the message to be viewed as one? After all if a 100 year old grandmother came into class with booty shorts and a tank top she would be receive the same amount of attention as you and deemed inappropriate. Also applies to a man coming into a classroom with booty shorts or a cut off belly tee. Its about not having hyper sexualized underage kids clothing become the norm in school but rather trying to keep boundaries on what is appropriate in public and for our kids. This is only a womens issue simply because it isn’t see as “cool” for guys to dress in skimpy outfits while it may be for some females.

  13. This reads more like an intro to feminism than anything else. I could care less if I turn a guy on or not. Does someone’s boner have anything to do with my agency? No. There is no removal of agency on that front. If anything it introduces me to the idea what I wear can effect men and, if I so choose, I can use that to my advantage. It’s other women judging me that is far more likely to determine what I wear and remove agency. So “other students” refers to not other boys, but all the other students regardless of gender. It is appalling how much the phrase “rape culture” gets thrown around at every single issue under the sun. “All too often misogynistic society” is quite a convenient turn of phrase as well. It just plants the idea in your head with no responsibility because “all too often” is any amount. Even one person being that way is technically too much. So it’s more about sensationalist attempts to steer your way of thinking than a legitimate statement. It all wreaks of a misguided dark version feminist-apologist ideology.

  14. I’m a guy, so I can’t speak from experience, but I feel like public school should be a place where such a dress code is enforced. I’ve nothing against the idea of a girl wearing whatever they want during their own time, but I don’t think that they should be able to wear something that’s potentially inappropriate for school. On the same hand, I think that such a rule should be applied to boys too! School is a regulated environment, and rules are put in place for a reason. If a job has a dress code, why should it be treated any differently than school? If a job tells you that you can’t wear revealing clothing, why shouldn’t a school? They’re both places with rules that are established for everyone. As far as how strict any give school gets, I don’t know how they’d measure appropriateness, but my main idea is this: The primary purpose of school is to learn, not to show off. I’m all for the idea of showing off and wanting to be confident in yourself, but the moment that desire to show off starts detracting from the education experience, it’s a problem. You don’t go to school to be confident about yourself or to express your sexuality. You go to gain intelligence and become a contributing member to society. Social development can occur in schools, but the primary purpose remains the same. I do believe that a lot of times the restrictions placed on attire are too much, but I don’t think that ANYONE should be able to wear whatever they want in a school setting.

  15. As a teacher and a mother, I think it’s interesting that an important piece of information has been forgotten in this article. The brain is not fully developed until some time into the early to mid-20s, including the ability to look at yourself and fully understand how others see you as you see yourself in the mirror. Right or wrong, imposing dress codes was originally put into place to help students do that, in addition to keeping them safe (I’m from the Midwest and if we let them, we would have students in shorts and t-shirts at the bus stop in January). However, as society has changed, and parenting culture has changed, those important conversations that parents used to have with their kids about clothing choices no longer seem to happen. The 15-18 year olds I have in my class DON’T know how to dress themselves for school sometimes, and that generally does lead to a conversation, whether it’s with the boy with droopy pants and a drug related T-shirt, or the young lady with a too low top. However, within that conversation is the explanation of why that might not be the best choice for school, but it also includes an explanation of WHY (and it doesn’t have anything to do with distracting others). I have never had a student walk away from those conversations feeling like they were “less” somehow because the conversation was had, and in every one of those instances, the students performed better in class because I took the time to be interested in THEM. Many young people who dress inappropriately are just trying to figure out who they are and how/where they fit in. We have to give young people validation for their accomplishments, not because of what they are or aren’t wearing.

  16. Wonderful says:

    I think maybe this article is over thinking it a little bit. How many women feel like they are being degraded by having a dress code that is designed to teach underage girls and boys how to dress with a sense of pride and higher class while trying to censor oversexaulized clothing until they can legally make that choice? I mean maybe if there was a dress code in college that would be crazy, but these are underage kids. furthermore should we be focusing on more important feminist issues here like the extremely high amount of rape in 3rd world countries and their lack of basic rights? what about the glass ceiling? maybe a little bit about conservative attacks on your reproductive rights….ya know the things that ACTUALLY make a difference in a woman’s life.

  17. Why dont young boys wear body hugging and revealing clothes?

  18. I’m going to play Devil’s advocate here and it’d be interesting to see what your counter arguments are to what I’m about to write. What I’m writing is not intended to degrade anyone or call anyone a hypocrite, it’s just an opinion that definitely can be argued against, but gives a different perspective to the arguments previously written on this article.
    I just don’t see how this article can jump to the conclusion that the dress codes are there simply to not distract boys… that sounds sort of ridiculous. Have any of you thought about them being in place to ensure other girls who are not as confident with their bodies dont feel shitty about themselves because they’re forced to see a girl wearing short shorts and a crop top? The majority of girls who dress like that are ones that are confident in their body. The majority of girls who are confident in their body in high school are girls that adhere to the societal acceptance of beauty – namely skinniness and a nice tan – and gain the most attention.
    NOW, before jumping on me saying that that is where everything is wrong and beauty is on the inside and you shouldn’t judge people on how they dress, that’s very naïve to say.
    First, if you see a man in sweatpants and a loose t-shirt, that gives off an impression of laziness; not an attractive quality. Everyone has their attractions. If you had to choose Zac Efron/Ryan Gosling or Jonah Hill/or Mclovin, what would your preference be? you don’t know them, you choice is always initially based on looks. Same thing with this example: if you see a burning house and a house across the street that’s perfect, you’d go to the safe house.
    It’s a natural instinct to be attracted to whatever is initially visibly appealing (this is a first impression, of course one cannot rest on that first impression to come to a final conclusion, however it is an instinct to make a hypothesis about what they see at first). Considering beauty as a first impression is also a natural instinct. Skinniness subconsciously gives a sense of healthiness, leading to a longer life and greater fertility (innate attractions to males). For girls, muscle and height subconsciously gives a sense of security, protection, and an ability to win (innate attractions to females). First impressions are first impressions, and that is pretty much what clothing is all about these days (other than warmth and breathability). everything you wear and do, no matter if you deem it fair or not, will give off an impression of who you are.
    So to say that you should be able to wear what you want when you want to, is totally fine. However, you must realize that it does give off an impression; an impression that is entirely subjective and relative to the mind of the person looking at you, but an impression nonetheless (this does not defend the sexual assault cases that use “she was asking for it by the way she dresses” defence because this simply talks about first impressions, rather than committing actions. There is no excuse for anyone to commit any type of sexual act onto anyone else without firm consent, no matter how one is dressed).

    Having said that, what kind of impression is an unconfident/unattractive girl getting from seeing other girls dressing in a crop top and short shorts? That wearing that type of clothing is the only way to becoming attractive? that skinniness is the only way to get attention from men? There are dress codes placed in middle and high schools because the students are not fully developed and do not have a full understanding of self-appreciation outside AND in. These dress codes give all students an equal opportunity to develop a sense of worth not based on outward beauty, but based instead on who they are inside.

    And for any girl arguing here that just because one person is not confident in their body I shouldn’t have to suffer and cover up… well I thought this whole article was for the advancement of women as a whole, not women who are confident in their bodies. You either stand together, or fall apart.

    • AMEN! Personally, in school I was distracted when girls were wearing overly revealing clothing. It’s not just for boys; they do mean “students.” I don’t like seeing a girl’s butt because her skirt or shorts are too short, or her breasts hanging out there because her shirt is absurdly low. I find it uncomfortable. I also think if I’m wondering why my classmate is dressed so skimpily, I am not focused on what I should be focused on: school. I am similarly displeased when boys are shirtless (in public, that is. I never saw a boy try to go shirtless in a school) or wearing their pants so low that they are on the verge of falling off. I just think it’s unpleasant in a school setting. You should wear what makes you happy and feel like you, without it all hanging out there, drawing all sorts of negative attention FROM BOTH GENDERS. Just respect the feelings of others and be appropriate.

  19. Here’s a solution: all schools, elementary and high school should have uniforms. Problem solved appropriate clothes are picked for all the students to wear, everyone wears the same thing and it’s easy to tell who does not belong at the school not to mention creates a sense of team/togetherness. It also encourages people to take pride in their school because the crest is plastered on their clothing so everyone knows what school they are representing. It’s such an easy fix. A lot of jobs these day require uniforms for this reason it’s appropriate and it represents the company they work for. As far as I’m concerned this shouldn’t be an issue for schools and to top it all off maybe parents should teach their sons to control themselves and not objectify pretty girls (revealed or not)

  20. it is the society we live in. Men and women both deserve respect regardless of their skin showing. Women are constantly objectified as sexual objects and have been for years and years. So much of the population pays attention to celebrities, magazines, fashion trends, etc… Young girls see these “trends” and want to fit in so they buy and dress the way in which they are shown. The media has a huge role in western cultures to objectify women, in music videos, movies, television shows….women and girls are shown that men like these women, men like the “big boobs and ass” men like the women that show more skin and maybe dress seductively or in a “sexy” way. we also listen to the way men comment on women’s bodies whether it be celebrities, random girls, or Facebook pages such as “big booties” …women are sexual beings as well, so they want attention (to some degree) from the men….we are taught in this society that the way to get attention from males is not about your intellect its about the way you look. So girls and women model what they are shown and than get criticized or called sluts for doing so. Not to mention, the industries that benefit from the sexual objectification of women make billions off women who have this mentality….clothes, makeup, hair, skin, teeth, plastic surgery, diets, etc…. I noticed
    some one mentioning the burqa. Western culture views that burqa as oppression but many of those (obviously not all but do the research…a great deal of them) women who wear the burqa wear it by choice and do not feel that the burqa is what oppresses them. Just recently I saw two pictures of muslim women holding signs that read “nudity is not liberation” and “I can support women’s rights with my clothes on”……It’s not the clothing, it’s the behavior, the mentality. women can be equally attracted to a man and may find is snug shirt over his muscular body incredibly distracting and desirable but there is a time, place, and appropriateness to act on these desires…boys should be taught the same principle. instead of arguing about what a woman wears or doesn’t wear we should be teaching our boys and men to be gentle men who can respect a woman regardless of her appearance and we should be teaching young girls to be lady’s with self worth and self esteem who have the confidence to value more important things in life than the way men and women perceive her by the way she dresses. outer beauty fades, it is inner beauty that counts so when we are all old and “physically unattractive” (seeing as being young is also a billion dollar industry for aging women) we can say our characters, our souls…which really matters, are truly beautiful.

  21. Uhm okay so This article is under the presumption that dresscodes are to “not destract boys”.

    It’s about decency right?

  22. I agree with this article in theory…..but I have my limits. Yes, I think it’s ridiculous that we have to cover our shoulders, and it’s got to be a secret that women wear bras. I’m 17, and it also might be important to note that I’m a lesbian. I find girls attractive. What I DON’T find in any way attractive is a girl dressing scantily to gain attention. SO many girls at my school show their stomach or wear super low-cut tops, and from another teenager’s perspective, they’re not thinking about excercising their right to their body. They’re trying to see how attractive they are to boys. I think the problem here is that what we show in media is all about physical beauty, and girls try to emulate that because they want to be attractive. It’s sad that some girls my age think the only way to be attractive is to show off your body.
    Personally, I’d like to show off my shoulders because I like them, and this summer I’m probably going to wear a crop top. However, I believe that parts of your body are private and the only people who should see them are intimate partners. I don’t think showing off big boobs, getting fake tans, and wearing booty shorts is at all attractive-I think girls who dress stylishly without sexualizing themselves are. Speaking from the teenager perspective, most girls my age aren’t dressing in short shorts because they like how they look and don’t care when people think-it’s because they want to show off their body to guys. And that’s the whole problem! Guys and girls are both sexualizing themselves and each other, going more and more extreme because media and hormones are saying that only thing that matters is physical attraction. That’s what we need to be teaching girls AND boys: your body doesn’t make you beautiful.

  23. I am a senior and I go to a small private school that has a strict dress code. I go there because I was bullied for many reasons at my old high school and that school has a special program for learning disabilities. I love everything about my school, except for the dress code. We have a uniform, but there is problems on free dress days. It has been stricter and stricter each year that I have been there. I am not even able to wear school issued sweat pants on free dress days or fake uggs because I don’t have enough money to buy real ones. I want to feel comfortable at school, but it is really hard if the faculty at my school is not letting me wear what I want. The faculty is more strict with the girls than the boys, which seems unfair to me. I am a dancer, so it is very important to me to stay comfortable where ever I go. I am not trying to show off my body, but I want to be able to wear whatever I want that is comfortable on free dress days. I have been so self-conscience this year because I am afraid of getting a strict consequence even though I wear what I am able to wear at school. The teachers notice every single thing about the student’s outfits and we get in trouble if we make the smallest school violation that we didn’t even know was a violation and it is really intimidating. I know that they are trying to protect us from being judged by other people, which is against my views, but there is a line where it becomes too far. Even though I am leaving after this year, I know that the rest of the students are thinking what I am thinking about the dress code.

  24. Please everyone commenting, read this. Very well said.

  25. Honestly, feminist perspectives are so off balance. You can say a woman can wear whatever they want, but what are the chances that a feminist will judge a man who is incredibly muscular for wearing a tank top that shows off those muscles? High. Chances are any feminist woman would automatically assume that this muscular man is a “meathead” or “douchebag” or something of the sort. The issue with feminism is that feminists are attempting to make women the dominant gender, where what they really should be striving for is equality. Dress codes are in place for males too, perhaps they have an opinion about what they want to wear to express themselves? So, if you truly believe in a fair and equal society think about how you would judge a man.

  26. Danielle says:

    What dress code does a transgendered individual have to follow? Structural modifications can be made on a male or female to aid in which gender they identify as. So what dress code does a biological male who identifies as female with female features such as breasts have to follow? Clearly they are male and must follow the male dress code. You’d never know they are male from what society has conceptualized as sexual features on a woman, i.e. breast implants. So does this biological man have to cover up cleavage? According to school guidelines men do not have a code for showing cleavage. Another example to prove my point further is sexual attraction of a female to another female. Say I enjoy female body parts, once again, breasts. I am not going to sexually attack a female because I can see a decent amount of cleavage. That’s called self control and respect. It doesn’t matter if I am a male or female and objectify a female. I will throw that female into the same category as the male if they look at/treat a female as a sexual object. Men have to understand this is not a feminist action- it’s respect and equality of both genders to each other as well as the mutual respect within the same gender.

  27. The whole point of this article is to point out that dress codes, too, attempt to control girls/women, make them aware of their bodies as something straight out of the garden of Eden, there to hurt/benefit men.

    I work in a school, and yesterday a 4th grader told me she’s “freaked out” because her cup size used to be an A but now it’s a C. That’s a NINE year old concerned about breast size. She should be concerned with My Little Pony at her age. It’s because of our world of telling girls what they need to be concerned about – their bodies. And dress codes are right up there at the top of the list alongside MTV, Cosmopolitan and rape culture fashion ads to name a few.

    And BTW, “Man Says” = troll. Ignore “Man Says” posts.

  28. I whole heartily agree. When I was in middle school (6th through 8th grade) dress code was strictly enforced (I went to public school). One day all of the girls were taken out of lunch early to go to a mandatory assembly about dress code. We were told we had to wear long skirts because we didn’t want to “give a free show” (my principals words exactly). Other things included not wearing ripped jeans or showing mid drifts. When a girl asked why the boys didn’t have an assembly about not wearing ripped jeans or wearing baggy jeans that fell off their butt, our principal (who was a woman) said that that didn’t concern us. Now out of college, I make corporate videos for a large sales company. I have had to make multiple dress code videos that ONLY pertain to women employees. Things such as “you don’t want to be distracting for the young men you will interview” and “if you look at yourself and say ‘I look gooood’ then you shouldn’t wear it” are quotes from these videos. I feel as if dressing professional in both school and work is important–for BOTH genders. But the other side never seems to be talked about.

  29. Christine says:

    Interesting article…but I do not completely agree.
    We can all agree that too much cleavage for women or tight clothing for either gender is simply inappropriate. Guys don’t walk around with their private parts out (lets hope not). There’s nothing wrong with looking hot! BUT schools have every right to command dress codes WITHIN school. If you want to look “sexy” outside school- go for it. But in my opinion, in no way is society putting a “band-aid” on the situation. Society requests that we dress appropriately by covering up the private parts of our bodies in a professional environment. Thats a good thing.
    To whoever wrote this article, you contradict your thesis in your final paragraph. You emphasize strongly how girls SHOULDN’T be told to “cover up”….then you go on to say how Willow shaved her head because she owns her body. You did not make it clear how being allowed to “show off” the body as a woman relates to “shaving one’s head.” In my opinion, showing off the body is promiscuous while shaving ones head is not.
    Thx for the thoughts!

    • What the author meant by that comparison is that it is a woman’s choice. Her clothes, her hairstyle, her makeup. It is all her choice and she shouldn’t be judged for it. Shaving one’s head isn’t considered very feminine at all and is in fact frowned upon largely because a shaved head does not fit society’s ideal of a beautiful woman. Girls are being told to cover up because they are told their skin is inherently sexual. The point is about not being controlled in a potentially psychologically detrimental way.

      And also, some women have very large breasts and so they would practically have to wear turtle necks all the time if they were forced to abide by rules of how much cleavage can show. It is simply a fact of life and there is no need to sexualize a part of the body that is literally there to feed a baby. I mean, what are you going to do? Force the young teen to get breast reduction surgery or teach the children to not harass her about her body and perceived sexuality?

  30. Merrick says:

    This is an interesting article. It touches the idea that clothing is for self expression, and not for hiding a woman’s body. I’m a young woman, so I don’t know if men often feel sexualized by other people, but I know that I do. If I wear revealing clothing men watch me and cat-call me, and people from both genders judge me and treat me as if I am unintelligent. If I wear very “modest” clothing I feel restricted, and I don’t feel like myself. I don’t like to show off much of my body, because I don’t like it. That’s where the problem really lies. We have taught girls that their worth is in their body. We expect them to be sexually appealing while remaining “modest.” What clothes a girl wears shouldn’t matter, why she is wearing them should. I knew so many girls in high school who would dress provocatively, but were not comfortable, because they only dressed that way because they didnt feel beautiful, and they thought imitating the look that media declares “sexy” would make them feel beautiful. It never did. Being confident in your physical appearance is important, but instead of declaring one type of body “beautiful,” we should promote how all bodies are beautiful, and promote healthy living, individual personalities, and augmenting a person’s natural gifts

  31. Merrick says:

    This is an interesting article. It touches the idea that clothing is for self expression, and not for hiding a woman’s body. I’m a young woman, so I don’t know if men often feel sexualized by other people, but I know that I do. If I wear revealing clothing men watch me and cat-call me, and people from both genders judge me and treat me as if I am unintelligent. If I wear very “modest” clothing I feel restricted, and I don’t feel like myself. That’s where the problem really lies. We have taught girls that their worth is in their body. We expect them to be sexually appealing while remaining “modest.” What clothes a girl wears shouldn’t matter, why she is wearing them should. I knew so many girls in high school who would dress provocatively, but were not comfortable, because they only dressed that way because they didnt feel beautiful, and they thought imitating the look that media declares “sexy” would make them feel beautiful. It never did. Being confident in your physical appearance is important, but instead of declaring one type of body “beautiful,” we should promote how all bodies are beautiful, and promote healthy living, individual personalities, and augmenting a person’s natural gifts

  32. The naked body is a beautiful thing, period. It’s should be both be sexualized and but also respected. It’s the point that men need to learn to respect women and what they wear and how much skin they show. It’s the point that men need to learn not to be ‘distracted’ by women’s bodies. Women’s bodies are not the problem that need to be fixed, men are the problem.

  33. I like aspects of this article, and I can definitely agree that there’s a disproportionate amount of emphasis put on girls dress code over boys, which makes it evident the codes become about “distraction” as opposed to proper dress for day/school. I think it just ignores a lot of the agenda behind low cut shirts and short skirts that are advertised for a younger and younger market. As women it’s one thing to make your clothing choices based on body liberation, but I think making no attempts to hone in on your daughters choices when she’s young or educating her about the way clothing is perceived, or even just talking to her about why she’s choosing to wear the things she does is doing her a great disservice.

  34. Joh Johnson says:

    The dress code applies equally for both genders, or at least it does so in my school. For example, bare shoulders aren’t allowed, and both girls and boys are forced to change if either gender wears a tank-top to school. The only reasons this seems to apply only to girls is because boys rarely, if ever violate the posted dress code. How often do you see boys wearing a mini skirt, a strapless dress, or even short shorts? Rarely, if ever. And on the one occasion a guy wore really short-shorts in my school as a joke, he got “shorted”, just as the girls do. And another thing, how often do you see guys walking around with their button up shirts unbuttoned a considerable amount to show their chest? Almost never. When I tried to, as a joke, I was forced to button up. Yet girls show a considerable amount more of their cleavage and it is deemed school acceptable.
    In summary, the dress code is not in itself a gender specific issue, unless you choose to erroneously perceive it as such. Then only reason it is viewed in such a fashion is because females on average wear much more revealing clothing then men.

    • I agree with you for the most part. Where I went to high school, if the boys wore baggy pants or something they would get some rope to hold up their pants from the principal. It’s still a matter of perception though. Like, for example, if a guy was wearing a tank top and short shorts he wouldn’t be seen as a whore or ‘loose.’ He’d probably be seen as gay. I don’t really know which is worse since both are bullied and I’m not trying to say that being seen as a slut is worse than being seen as gay since I don’t really know anything about being on the receiving end of either of these. I think you can only choose what to perceive up to a certain point (unless you just want to bury your head in the sand and shout ‘EVERYONE IS EQUAL NO MATTER WHAT,’ which I admit to doing for a time). We’re still in a male-dominated society (as much as I hate to admit it for fear of being labeled a feminazi, not to be confused with a feminist) and there’s a precedent there considering the world’s history. I also find the distracting explanation theory really insulting. Like men have these pea sized brains that shut down at the sight of skin.

  35. Did any one else notice that they are wearing sneakers with the dresses?? What were they thinking??!

  36. JakeCake says:

    This was a very well written article! You are so right!

  37. I’d just like to say, that all this aside, it doesn’t matter what you wear. It doesn’t matter what I wear when I walk down the street, I still get cat calls. The only thing I’ve never been harassed in was jeans and my boyfriend’s way oversized coat, something I could be mistaken for a man in. I was once solicited for sex wearing loose skinny jeans, a cat sweater and a scarf, walking down a residential street. Don’t tell me that what I wear is going to effect how men perceive me, unless I’m going to dress like I couldn’t care less about how I look for the rest of my life, and that, that is how you get low self esteem. Making girls dress a certain way specifically so they don’t get harassed. And even that isn’t even a fool-proof way to avoid anything.
    What we need to do to end this horrible cycle is to teach men to not yell at women when they walk down the street. We need to teach men that the reason you don’t shout something at that girl, even if it’s just “Just smile darling!” isn’t because she’s walking with a man, but because she’s a person, and yelling that at her isn’t going to make her feel better. It’s going to make her feel worse. You don’t know what she’s been through.
    It only feels good to be cat called the first few times, if that. After that, it can, and has, ruined my entire day. I honestly don’t feel safe walking down the street in broad daylight in anything but jeans and my boyfriend’s oversized coat, unless I’m with someone else. And that is a huge problem.

  38. Heather says:

    Ok so I do not care what men , woman , girls or boys wear , they can wear whatever makes them feel good … But I do not agree with the “one sided dress codes” (with minimal requirements for the guys like no profanity or some bullshit ) so if the schools want a modest learning environment with minimal “dress distractions” why don’t they just implement uniforms …. That way everybody looks the same with minor color variations and even though it will suck for the kids at least it will suck for all the kids equally !!! Lol , I mean in all reality it is the most neutral solution that doesn’t single out anyone … Makes sense to me …. And btw a lot of businesses have business uniforms or expected attire … So it will get them ready for the real world lol

  39. I can understand why our schools have dress codes, I mean this topic is entirely generational. Think of your grandparents. They have a much more strict view on clothing attire – and that is because they grew up following their society’s rules. It’s the same with all of the generations before them, just every now and then society gradually loosens up.
    Anyway, my point is, they are the majority population in the U.S. I mean, think of the AARP. That’s a lot of taxpayers. Schools need taxpayers, and students widely represent the schools they attend. Now I don’t know about you, but I wouldn’t vote to pay taxes for a school’s levy if they have a very bad student reputation.
    We are expected to follow a dress code in our schools to protect our reputations. If we do not comply, then we are simply showing disrespect to our schools and our community.
    Eventually, in a few years, kids will get to wear leggings/yoga pants and shorts to school due to the constantly changing views in society. Stop being so impatient and show some respect.

  40. its true, women shouldn’t be wearing cloths at all, they should be allowed to express themselves in any way they want, but thats not really fair to boys, so they should be allowed to do the same, breasts are natural and so is the penis, so why not air it out once in a while? I say, LET THE CHILDREN GOVERN THEMSELVES, BE FREE!

    • Seriously though, only a few people would ever actually come to school naked. They would do it for the shock value and then not do it again because a) the novelty will have worn off quickly b) depending on the climate they would probably be very uncomfortable because of the elements c) they find they are not comfortable doing that again, etc.

      And honestly, we as a society need to grow up and stop being scared of naked people. Naked people are not inherently sexual, they are just naked. Half or more of the people on these comments would probably die from a fatal shot in their sensibilities if they ever went to a college life drawing class.

      You know what’s in nudist camps? A lot of naked people going about their lives. Want to know what’s not in nudist camps? SEX. SEX EVERYWHERE. IN THE STREETS IN THE YARDS IN FRONT OF KIDS. We need to stop acting like seeing someone naked or close to it means sex is about to occur, or should occur.

  41. Why are we so offended by our own anatomy?

  42. Lonely #4 says:

    I’m 14 and have spent the past two years obsessed with modesty. Here are my guidelines
    1. NO tops that reveal the midriff
    2.Whether a top is tank, tube, halter, string, etc. it should NOT be worn
    3. Shorts, dresses, or anything that reveals the legs in banned
    4. Sports bras should be worn, or multiple strapless bras to hide the breasts
    5. Backless articles of clothing are prohibited
    6. If a dress has straps it should not be worn. If a dress has no straps, it DEFINITELY should not be worn!
    7. Bikini and tankini swimsuits are overly provocative, swimsuits are too immodest in the first place
    8. NO cleavage whatsoever
    9. Sleeveless tops which are cut low on the sides, are immodest, even if a sports bra is worn under them because it reveals the midriff
    10. Cutouts or sheer in the midsection of dresses is banned

  43. I personally cross dress on occasion because men will typically leave me alone and I will get taken more seriously. I hide what a lot of men consider to be proof of their ownership of me. Do I ask to be catcalled at, even when wearing something modest? Do I ask to be stalked? No, but some see it that way anyway. Because I have breasts and a vagina. Even my female therapist bought into this victim-blaming BS. Because I was wearing shorts (that didn’t show “too much” by the way) when it was hot as Hell out in the deep south, she wrote in her notes of me that I was being promiscuous because she noticed a much male in the waiting room staring at me. I was 17 then, by the way. I, nor any other woman, deserves to be stared at like a piece of meat, no matter what she chooses to wear.

  44. Yashira says:

    Nobody should care if a stranger doesn’t like what one is wearing. Let’s worries about ourselves and what not what others think is the “correct” way to dress.
    If someone wants to show off skin in public on a warm or hot day. Then so be it. Who are you to tell someone what to do?

  45. hope busch says:

    There is no debate. Arguing to justify dressing to attract attention is laughable.
    Dressing to show cleavage or buying a formal dress with cutouts that leave nothing to imagine, is clearly a call for attention and do you think I am sexy? It is a sign of trying to accept yourself. It is obvious a girl and boy are to use their lifetime to develop self knowledge, wisdom and other virtues to make a difference. However, American culture expects these kids to know who they are in young adulthood. Feminist , why do you focus on fighting to show butt and breasts. A true waste of time! The goal is to develop self worth in service, academics, work and other habits that form the mind in contributing to a better world.
    So keep fighting for characteristics that will destroy a girls life and you can support the campaign for abortion, welfare, and forever looking for self worth through sexuality. We are not to promote things just because “you”can. A simple analogy is ..I can walk the way I want and no one should interfere if I walk backwards where ever I go. There is a consequence walking backwards…it will slow me down…it will create disorder and I mite never reach my goal. So give up the dress to create a “mindless” younglady! Seriously, when a girl dresses to expose every orifice she owns..I feel sorry for her and think “is that all you got?” AND I am feeling sorry for your future daughters. ..With a mother that encourages showing sexuality be brains it’s no wonder you spend time fighting for the cause of dressing in a revealing way. Because, It Is all YOU GOT!

  46. Rebecca Van Hoose says:

    I think we should wear what we want

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