Dress Code Unfairly Targets Young Women


GEHS dress code violation examples in the student planner.

Indigo Graves, Staff Writer

This is a call to action. Personally, as a female, I feel targeted by the school dress code, so I presented a survey on the fairness of the policy to East students (see questions below). I created this survey on Google forms and made it available to all students at East. 45 students responded, with people of all genders expressing their belief that the dress code is unfair. For young women, the code seems to be an excuse for over-sexualization of our maturing bodies, inappropriate comments, and an overall repression of teens learning how to express themselves.

For example, in the dress code policy pictures in our planners, almost all of the bodies are female figures (see photo ex.), and the wording calls out specifically female characteristics such as cleavage.

Along with the discriminatory rules and examples, the enforcement of dress code seems not only to target female-identifying or -dressing people, but specifically those with a larger body type. Survey respondents expressed repeatedly that they either have been personally targeted because they are female, or have witnessed the targeting of others.

Another issue is the inconsistent enforcement of the dress code across different genders. Males can wear t-shirts with the sleeves cut off where half of their chest is on display, or jeans with rips on them wherever, but when a girl does the same, her dress is “provocative.”

As a group, young women are not only trying to bring this issue to light, but also asking for a change. The dress code is outdated and sexist. As a school, we can work together on better rules and more appropriate ways of addressing a policy that makes girls feel bad about their bodies.

Survey Questions

  1.  How do you feel about the dress code?
  2.  Do you think the dress code is “fair”? Why or why not?
  3.  Do you feel targeted by the dress code?
  4.  What changes do you think should be made to the dress code?
  5.  Do you think the dress code favors boys over girls?

Feel free to leave a comment!