Dress codes do have impact

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By Bekah Denny

Students have a presence glaring down on them when they step onto the school premises. They can also feel overwhelmed, with the amount of covering up they have to do, under the laws of dress code. Illustration by Faith Evans
Illustration by Faith Evans

Dress code is confrontational: teachers versus students, society versus morals, shorts versus pants. Dress code is something that can be taken back all the way to 1969 where students were initially denied their First Amendment rights by the school administration. The Tinker vs Des Moines Supreme Court case sparked a feud that continues today between students’ freedom of expression and the school district’s right to maintain social order.

Dress codes are positive rules used by the school districts throughout the world. These standards are used to promote a safe environment for students as well as prevent offensive atmospheres and add a sense of uniformity to the student body. Although this idea is based on good intentions, school districts are going beyond their entitlements and are denying students their constitutional rights.

Students around the United States have been penalized for wearing certain religious clothing such as Islamic headscarves, cross necklaces, rosaries and traditional dresses for graduation, like feathers or tribal cloth. School dress codes blatantly disregard the laws in the First Amendment where it states, “Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion or prohibiting the free exercise thereof…”

There is also speculation that school dress codes are female favorable. In today’s society, girls are being taught to be ashamed of their bodies before they even grow into them.

The standard school dress code for girls: fingertip length clothing, no shoulder showing, and no bra strap, to only name a few, sends a message to the students. That message is that the female body is a sexualized subject that is seen as if it needs to be covered up, and the male mind seems to be biologically engineered to harass and be transfixed on the female body.

This does nothing for either gender as it simplifies the male mind as well as weakens a girl’s confidence in her own skin.

School dress codes impact students and contribute to the way society trains the mind about body image. While dress codes are needed for some sense of professionalism, these rules also have the ability to undermine the rights of younger generations as well as shape the way students think about their bodies.