Distraction or Self-Expression?

     Transitioning from high school into college entails many things. Buying textbooks, rather than using the ones provided by the school. Living in a dorm, rather than with your parents. Coming up with a schedule, rather than being given one by the school. These are all things that many people face when making this transition. But one thing that doesn’t cross many minds when starting college, however, is dress codes. In high schools, there is often a strict dress code, especially for females. They can’t wear anything that shows their shoulders, back, chest or stomach area in any way. Revealed bra straps are forbidden. Shorts, skirts and dresses must be longer than where the fingertips hit when the arms are down to the sides. In some places, leggings, yoga pants and similar articles of clothing are banned completely. Failure to comply with these rules can lead to detention or being pulled out of class and either having your parents called to bring you new clothes or being sent home to change. In college, there often is no dress code at all, and women can wear whatever they please, without consequence.

     High school dress codes for females are said to be for preventing distraction. For example, a girl wearing a tank top with her shoulders revealed would be considered distracting to the other students. While there are people who agree with dress codes, others feel as though dress codes infringe upon students’ self-expression through clothing.

     Hannah Turcotte is one of those who disagrees with dress codes for the most part. “I think clothing is a huge way to self-express or to use even as a comfort mechanism. Clothing can sometimes be distracting, but it’s not distracting enough to the point where it will be affecting other people. We’re human beings, not dogs. We can control ourselves. Being sent home for the way you’re dressed is basically saying that because you’re dressed a certain way, you aren’t allowed to be in school. They’d rather send you home than educate you. It’s a waste of time. I think you should treat dress codes how they’re treated in other places in society. You should be able to dress how you would dress in any other public setting. In a perfect world, I would be totally against them, but I think it’s a bigger issue with society as a whole. Dress codes are mainly against women, but I think with where we’re at now, I do see where it’s needed to protect people, unfortunately,” she said.

     Hannah also gave some examples of experiences she had when she was in high school only a few years ago. “One time I was wearing spaghetti straps and a teacher literally reached over and pulled my bra and spaghetti straps up and I didn’t approve of her touching me. Another time, a teacher and I were in his classroom discussing dress codes and why the school stopped allowing Halloween costumes and why we can’t wear pajamas. He said that some girls aren’t as naturally beautiful as others and that would showcase which girls were more beautiful. I thought that was disgusting that a middle-aged man would say that about high schoolers,” she said.

     Jacob Cote also had an opinion on the matter. “I think clothes are a great way for kids to express themselves, but I also do think that dress codes are in place for a reason. Some things are just too inappropriate for them to be wearing, especially in school. It’s not hard to dress according to the rules. There are rules in every part of life, and this is no different. Do I think they’re a little too strict with the dress code? Yeah, maybe. But I do believe there should be one,” he said.

     Some people see certain articles of clothing as being too distracting for a school setting, especially among young people with impressionable minds and who are more immature. Some people think that high schoolers should be able to wear what they choose, like those who are in college, because clothing is a form of self-expression. And some people are in between. Whether or not you agree with dress codes, this certainly has been a hot topic of debate over the past few years.