Remember school dress codes? Did they ever give you a sick feeling in the pit of your stomach as a teenager, or did they stay comfortably off your radar? Peggy Orenstein’s opinion piece on the subject in The New York Times brings up some of the more troubling questions about what the real purpose of those rules is –do they protect kids or just perpetuate body shame?
Orenstein insists that:
Telling girls to “cover up” just as puberty hits teaches them that their bodies are inappropriate, dangerous, violable, subject to constant scrutiny and judgment, including by the adults they trust. Nor does it help them understand the culture’s role in their wardrobe choices.
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By now you’ve probably heard of the prestigious New York City high school that protested what they perceive as a discriminatory dress code by instituting a “Slutty Wednesday”—a day in which students came to school in outfits that deliberately violated the code. According to news reports, the school’s dress code is pretty basic. It requires that shorts, dresses and skirts should extend below students’ fingertips, with their arms straight at their sides and that shoulders, undergarments, midriffs and lower backs should not be exposed. Students argued that such a code affects female students more than males and that it is being arbitrarily enforced, singling out students whose bodies are “more curvy.”
“In addition to the violation of female students’ rights,” Jessica Valenti writes in The Nation, “the thinking behind the code sends a dangerous message to young women – that they are responsible for the way in which society objectifies and sexualizes them.”
The protest is similar to the thinking behind movements like Slutwalk — movements that, in the words of founder Heather Jarvis, emphasize the right for “anyone to wear what you want and be who you are without the threat of violence.”
Whereas I agree that it’s not a women’s responsibility to mitigate the male gaze, and I certainly respect that a woman’s sexuality is her own to be expressed as she chooses, the sticky fact is that many spaces we encounter have a dress code, written or unwritten. To the extent that school prepares students for the “real world,” shouldn’t students be expected to come to school properly dressed? Keep reading »
When we read the Time headline “‘Urkel’ Is Now a Verb,” we assumed this had something to do with hipster dress, which often takes after Steve Urkel fashion with tight pants and over-sized glasses. But no. Apparently, “getting Urkeled” is what the kids at Westside Middle School in Memphis, Tennessee, say when someone gets penalized for baggy pants. The school’s principal “has teachers armed with zip ties patrolling the halls for sagging pants. When a guilty student is identified, the teacher quickly fastens the zip ties to the belt loops and raises the pants up to the waist and beyond,” aka the act of getting Urkeled. Apparently these scare tactics are working as infractions have dropped from some 80 to 18 or so per week.
This seems like kind of a cruel and embarrassing way to get kids to dress right. (Not to mention invasive! Who wants their teacher grabbing their pants to give them a wedgie?) Although we’re almost more bothered by the fact that the baggy pants trend of the ’90s has resurfaced (or never left in certain parts of the country?). [Time] Keep reading »
Dang, athletes in Japan have some serious dress code rules to contend with in order to participate in their sport. First, we told you about snowboarder Kazuhiro Kokubo, who was banned from the Olympic opening ceremony by the Japanese Ski Association because he was sporting a “hip-hop” twist on the national uniform. Now, we’ve learned that synchronized swimmers could face lifetime bans for expressing their sense of style. Japanese officials have implemented a policy, which goes into effect April 1, that will ban a swimmer if she/he goes to competition with elaborately painted or designed nails, dyed hair, or pierced ears. These rules are supposed to prevent the athletes from looking like rock stars, but they seem a little harsh to me. I mean, aren’t most people paying attention to their swimming or diving skills, instead of their fashion sense? [Reuters] Keep reading »
Black tie. Creative black tie. Cocktail. Casual Chic. We’re guessing you have an idea of what half of these dress code terms mean, but the other half is rather confusing. Dress codes are not only becoming more popular, but are also becoming more obscure. “It used to be it was either no dress code at all or black tie. There was nothing in between, and now it seems like every invitation you get has some variation on a theme that is just incredibly confusing,” says Hope Greenberg of Lucky.Thankfully, Greenberg deciphers these dress codes just in time for your holiday party. Keep reading »
Guess Gonzalez, TX, school district didn’t get the memo that jumpsuits are a fashion “do” these days. Kids from 5th grade through high school who come to school dressed inappropriately will be forced to put on a black, school-issued jumpsuit. Sure, it’s a little prison, but with the right accessories, I’d wear it. [CNN] Keep reading »