It’s a Dress Code, Not War on Women

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I have one friend who always finds posts, articles, or other blogs to send to me. She always leaves the caption, “Blog fodder for you.”

That was the case with this little rant Why Yoga Pants are Incredibly Dangerous to Today’s Youth. Of course, when I opened it, I thought I would be reading about yoga pants being incredibly dangerous to today’s youth. In my mind I’m wondering if it’s going to talk about how little girls are dressing older than their age, and how we–as mothers–need to “Just Say No” to stores like Justice. However, once I opened the link, I soon found out that the title itself is misleading. This blog is not about how yoga pants are dangerous to today’s youth, it’s about how one school’s dress code enforces the War on Women by not allowing girls to wear spandex pants at school (unless the pants are paired with appropriate school clothing).

In her blog, Ashley (who is a Bravo addict, wife, mother, and FEMINIST–her capitalization), states that when she attended this school, she was cat-called, groped, treated like a sexual object, and made to feel like her body was dangerous to the male population. Now, eleven years later, she’s angrily wanting people to know how silly dress codes are–especially since she works from home and wears spandex yoga pants on a daily basis.

I will admit to ruminating on this blog for over a week. It makes me think several things. But, after really, really thinking about it, I’ve decided to try to come at this in a nice way.

I’ll start by saying this, “Dear Yoga Pant Wearing Female, I’m sorry you had a rough High School experience.”

We all did. It was High School.

Every person in High School has a rough experience being in High School, whether it be peer pressure, grade pressure, body image issues, student-teacher relations, addiction, etc. But, at some point, we have to let it go. Eleven years seems like a fair amount of time to sit back and reflect, adult-style, on High School experiences, sans bitterness and anger over what sounds like a typical, standard dress code.

And I say this after living through my High School experience, where I was the fat kid. Did I let that define the worth of my character? Nope. I had better things to do than worry about popular kids calling me fat. Therefore, sixteen years later, I’m not bitter, angry, or upset about the situation. It was High School. The worth of my character is not judged by children trying to figure out who they want to be and which social group is better.

It is, however, judged by the face I present to the world, and the clothing I choose to put on my body. Which is the direction I finally decided to take this blog. I will say, however, that I’m sorry this fellow mom blogger was groped and cat-called in HS. In response to her treatment, though, she states that the only thing she did was to tell the boys to shut up, glare at them, ignore them, or walk away. All reasonable reactions, but my wonder, though, is if she ever opened her mouth and told someone in charge, or spoke to her parents about the way she was being treated. And, if she didn’t, why didn’t she? What kept her from speaking up?

Eleven years and a mom later, what would she now tell her children, as their mother, so many years removed from her High School experience? Here’s a life lesson that I would say, and will say, to my child–it’s the same life lesson that was taught to me: if you don’t learn to toot your own horn, someone will think it’s a urinal, and piss in it.

Basically, if you let yourself be a victim, you will be a victim.

For example, as a female, if I hear someone walking behind me in an empty parking lot and I don’t do something proactive, I’m more likely to be mugged and/or raped. That’s a sad fact of life, but it’s an absolute fact. So, as a female, I make sure to stand tall, look around, make eye contact, and hold my keys like a knife. I make sure that whomever is behind me knows that if they mess with me, I’ll fight back.

The same situation applies to being bullied at school. Allowing yourself to be groped in a school setting goes beyond a strict dress code. It’s not the clothing choice that is creating the disrespect, and it’s not the school fostering the disrespect by enforcing a standard dress code.

The problem is not cluing the school officials into whatever is occurring on the student level. Teachers and Principals who do not know that there is an issue cannot address the said situation. However, if the school was made aware of the bullying, adopting a stricter dress code could have been one way of trying to create a respectful atmosphere within the student population, whether it worked or not.

Say that my child, my beautiful Tiny Tot, smacks another child and I don’t see or hear it happen. I can’t punish what I don’t witness. But, if my child smacks another child and the other child tells me about the incident, I can then take steps to correct the behavior. I can enforce a punishment and remove the other child from my child’s presence, thereby making the situation safer for the other child.

But, if the the child never speaks up for himself, I, as the disciplinarian, cannot take steps to address or correct the issue. The other child can allow himself to be a victim, or be proactive and open his mouth.

See how that works?

Now for the crux of the dress code dilemma: it’s called a dress code, not War on Women.

A dress code extends beyond female sexualization–it’s an enforcement on proper attire that should occur in specific situations. Dress codes are meant to teach both male and female alike what is appropriate to wear, and what is not appropriate to wear, upon stepping out into the world. Our clothing is a direct reflection of what we are trying to say about ourselves.

Who we are is who we present to the world–that’s another lesson parents should be teaching their children. But, on the off-chance they don’t, schools adopt dress codes. Dress codes keep boys from sagging their pants to the floor and walking around with neon boxers for all the world to see. Dress codes keep girls from wearing shorts cropped to their bottom, and shirts cropped to their chest. Schools know how students think, therefore they inflict dress codes and codes of conduct upon their students.

Their premise is quite simple: there is a time and a place for everything. For example, it is never an appropriate time to walk anywhere in see-through, flesh-toned, spandex pants. It’s just not. Unfortunately, my eyeballs will forever be scarred having seen a woman march down the streets of LSU’s campus on game day, butt jiggling in nude leggings and a crop top. Unfortunately, the crop top was not appropriate attire, either, seeing as the top exposed more than it covered. What the woman really needed was a supportive bra, jeans, and t-shirt.

I’m just saying.

The same concept applies at school. How children dress is a reflection of their character. Children should be taught that; dress codes enforce it. They keep our children focused on their main priorities in school: studying, learning, listening, and being respectful to adults and peers. When our children walk out of the house, and walk into a school building, they are there for one reason: to learn. School is meant to be educational. It’s not meant to be a fashion show.

Period.

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No comments posted on October 7, 2014 in Opinions, Winging It, Mom Style

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