Restrictions on self-expression


Imagine entering the building wearing an outfit you feel confident in, but instead, you receive a shameful remark from a teacher that your outfit is “inappropriate,” and you get sent to the office. Dress codes should change because they prevent self-expression and tend to sexualize clothing, and imply that the clothing is a distraction

School dress codes guide what is appropriate to wear in a school setting. But, can schools take this “code” too far? We have dress codes in place but “administration at each school reserves the right to determine what constitutes appropriate dress.” One school might see it as inappropriate, but another may deem it as appropriate in their eyes. Furthermore, this can further confuse students; they may not know what is right and wrong in the administration’s eyes. 

One of the problems is that the dress code is not up to date with the current generations. EPS does not consider what is in style and the different body shapes people have. Shorts on long legs can seem to deceive as short shorts. Social media and trends have become significant in the clothing industry, and many styles do not correlate with the dress code. People can experience difficulties in wanting and finding clothing that fits appropriately and feels comfortable in what they are wearing. Everyone has their preferences regarding what they find appealing and appropriate for their body, and this should be respected by the school. 

The main problem is the humiliating process of calling students out to dress code them and the idea of clothing being a “distraction.” This process can be unfair and anxiety-inducing in many ways. The administration is known to call students’ clothing a distraction and a disruption of other students’ education. If anything, being sent away or called out in front of other students is more distracting than the actual clothing.

Many students have dress code horror stories, some of which occurred in this school. Ava Duncan, a junior at North, was dress coded on the first day of her freshman year. 

“I walked in on the first day of school wearing a crop top and jean shorts, which seemed like a pretty normal outfit considering that I saw a bunch of girls wearing it. I was walking to my first hour and was stopped by a teacher screaming at me to go straight to the office. She said, “Did you really think you could wear something like that to school?” I was a little embarrassed just because I was being yelled at in the middle of a hallway by a teacher telling me to cover up. When I got back to school after having to go home and change, I saw a number of girls in the same type of outfit I had on or maybe even a bit more revealing. I don’t understand why some girls get dress-coded and others don’t; it will never make sense to me. I still deal with this and was also dress coded on the first day of my junior year. I believe people should be mature enough not to get “distracted” by something a high school girl is wearing,” Duncan said.

Another incident occurred this year to a junior, Macy Robberson.

“It was my first day of school, and I thought my outfit was really cute.  Come to find out in two hours, I got dress coded during the moment of silence. I thought it was weird that she would interrupt that, and she couldn’t just ask me once it was over. She then did this to five more girls, and we went to the black box to talk more about our classes. We were getting our IDs, and as I go up there to get mine, she says, “Let’s talk about dress code.” She then starts with open-back shirts, which mine was. As everyone was laughing and staring at me, I could not believe she just called me out not once but twice. Then, she made a comment about my jeans while I was up there.  She said, “And don’t wear jeans like she’s wearing with your holes this high.” I thought about taking it up with the office because I feel like you should not be called out in front of the whole class and during moments of silence, but she thought it was ok. I just left it alone and decided to bring sweatshirts to her class so she can’t dress code me anymore,” Robberson said.

With the way the last few years have gone, clothing is the least of our worries.

If you have comments or questions about this article, please email Oliva Waters at [email protected]