Of all the things that might distract a room full of teenagers, an ugly sweatsuit with the words “DRESS CODE” written down the leg seems much more likely to draw attention than any mini skirt. But one 17-year-old says her high school has come up with just such a shame outfit for female students who violate the school’s dress code, and she says it’s sexist garbage.
Lydia Cleveland, a senior at James River High School, told Yahoo Parenting that female students at her school who are judged to be dressed too sexily have been made to wear an intentionally sweatsuit covered in “DRESS CODE” graffiti as a sort of dunce cap-esque punishment. Cleveland says the punishment is just designed to shame, and that none of the boys have yet been forced to wear one.
”Shaming is an unacceptable way to punish students, and in this case, it’s really only about shaming young women,” Cleveland told Yahoo Parenting. ”We are told our dress code is about promoting and maintaining a professional environment, so the fact that we are being punished by having to wear these sweatpants that is the opposite of professionalism. If this were an actual workplace, and our administrators are always telling us to think of school that way, then this would be considered a hostile work environment.”
Cleveland says the dress code has gotten stricter this year than in previous years, and that it is not being evenly enforced. For example, girls are now forbidden from wearing athletic shorts, and the boys can wear them if they want.
”I have a friend who got in trouble for wearing jean shorts because administrators told her she ”˜filled them out too well,'” Cleveland said. “The fact that students are being asked to walk in front of administrators and get looked up and down to be sure their outfits are free of distractions is gross. If a boy walks by in a hat, they just say, ”˜take the hat off.’ The boys are facing nothing.”
The idea of a school administrator telling a girl that she “fills her shorts out too well” is absolutely vomit-inducing.
Yahoo Parenting contacted the school district and was provided with a copy of the dress code and a visual reference the students are given, which specifies nine things girls can’t wear and has only two pictures of things boys can’t wear. At a certain point administrators should just acknowledge that dress codes aren’t about distraction, they’re about telling girls to cover up their naughty, naughty bodies. These rules tell young women that they are responsible for policing the sexual feelings, attention spans, and impulses of others, which is just wrong. Other students are responsible for their own thoughts and actions. Denim shorts are not a corrupting influence, and it is not the responsibility of Cleveland or her friends to control the feelings of others.
”We’re not telling young men to respect women,” Cleveland said. ”Instead, we are telling young women it is their responsibility to cover up or feel the consequences.”
(Photo: iStockPhoto/Getty Images/wxin)