In the past week, I have heard many girls express their frustration with Brimmer and May’s dress code, claiming that it prohibits them from expressing their identities. While the dress code effects both male and female students, the rules for the boys are fewer and generally easier to follow. For us guys, it’s usually just a matter of putting on a belt.
Some girls claim the dress code is biased toward boys, as the rules for girl’s clothing are far more restrictive. For example, spandex, leggings, tank tops, short shorts, and any other article of figure-hugging clothing, may all be categorized as dress code violations.
Additionally, some girls say that there are far fewer options for women that would be considered modest. Go to the mall and look around. Turn on your TV, flip through the ads at the back of the newspaper, the same images are everywhere, women sporting tight-fitting, revealing outfits. These are the options (or lack thereof) available to girls.
When girls complain about a lack of options while simultaneously voicing a desire for self-expression, the irony is hard to miss.
Clothing companies are fond of encouraging self-expression and individuality in their advertisements. The dress code debate has proven that consumers—in this case, girls—feel limited by the apparel options they are presented with in stores. Therefore, abolishing the dress code will not allow girls to express a greater degree of individuality.
As long as clothing options for women are limited, girls will be restricted from true self-expression, dress code or not. The more pressing question is how we can empower women and cease to limit their options for self-expression.
Everyone is affected by societal influences. At its core, fashion is about what society has decided is “in.” Some girls may feel empowered without a dress code and wear the clothes that they feel suit them. Others however, will find themselves wearing whatever happens to be in vogue, following the hottest trends under the pretense of self- expression.